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Barnes is a Haven for Hedgehogs

Two hedgehogs on garden stone slabs

Barnes is a Haven for Hedgehogs

We saw the first hedgehog in our back garden in Westmoreland Road about eight years ago, writes local Hedgehog Champion Caroline Hird. It was a little mound of bristles sitting in a flower bed. We started reading up about how to keep the garden hedgehog-friendly and got great advice in the early years from Barnes Hedgehogs. They came to look at the site and drilled holes in the fences with both our neighbours, who are really supportive too, and also one in the side gate, when we realised that they were scurrying about on the pavements and up our front paths.

Hedgehogs are now regularly seen across five of our linked gardens (we see around eight a night in our own garden). We’ve seen young ones too – often in pairs – and we’re sure there are several generations of Westmoreland hogs now. We co-exist well: they’re wonderful entertainment as dusk falls and we quietly watch them emerge to feed, snuffling around each other and wandering around the beds; and we provide water and kitten food and garden around them in Spring and Summer.

With a bit of trial and error we’ve found good manufacturers of hedgehog feeding stations (robust wooden boxes with two entrances and a way of preventing other animals getting in) and we have a few nesting boxes too, but they tend to find their own Winter homes at the bottom of the garden under the shed or deep in undergrowth.

The advice given by Barnes Hedgehogs (now part of Barnes Common) is spot on: if they are out at dusk or night, moving well and appear fine, you don’t need to interfere with their comings and goings. Just support their feeding with water and dry kitten food, and provide plenty of natural shelter in undergrowth and areas where there are likely to be the sort of bugs and grubs that they need. And of course it’s important not to use pesticides including slug pellets, which is true for all wildlife in the garden.

They live well alongside other animals  – our cat sits and watches them, and our little wildlife camera (a simple, battery-operated trail cam) has recorded the odd fox sniffing around them but never hurting them. Hedgehogs are pretty robust if conditions are good – the main challenges for them are cars and a lack of wild places to live safely. We feel very lucky to be close to so many hedgehogs when some people don’t ever see one in their lifetime, and it will be great if Barnes can continue to be a hedgehog haven for a long time to come!

If you’d like your local hedgehogs to visit your garden, there are a few simple steps you can take. Make sure they have access – Barnes Hedgehogs, now under our umbrella, offer a service to cut small access holes in fences. You can also leave out food and water for them – read more about dos and dont’s on our Barnes Hedgehogs page. Interested in helping these small mammals thrive in our local area? Please get in touch: [email protected]