Releasing or rehoming hedgehogs in your garden

We receive many enquiries each year from householders looking to release hedgehogs into their gardens. Often this is associated with a desire for some help with controlling numbers of slugs.

First of all it’s worth noting that hedgehogs don’t actually do a great deal to control slugs. Some estimates suggest that slugs make up as little as 5% of their diet. So if your main motivation for introducing a hedgehog to your garden is slug control, you’re likely to be disappointed, unfortunately.

The second important thing to note is that if you do not already have hedgehogs visiting your garden then there is probably a good reason why. Possible explanations include

  • lack of suitable access (do make sure there is a 5 inch gap under your fence so that they can get through)
  • yours or surrounding gardens are just too tidy for hedgehogs (they are called “hedge” hogs for a reason and like areas with plenty of low growing shrubs for cover
  • there is a large badger population in the area which has predated on the hedgehogs
  • you or your neighbours are using slug pellets or other chemicals in the garden which are very harmful to hedgehogs

 

Release Sites #

Hedgehog rescues will not release hedgehogs into gardens which don’t already have an established, thriving population of hedgehogs. To do so would likely result in the death of the released animals.

In order to provide either a release site for hedgehogs, your garden will need to meet specific requirements to ensure the animals’ survival and welfare. You will likely be asked to

  • care for the hedgehog in a rabbit run for a few weeks while it acclimatises to the area
  • provide food and support for the hedgehog while it settles in to its new territory
  • undertake not to use any chemicals in your garden
  • keep any resident dogs under control so they cannot worry or harm the hedgehogs
  • ensure the garden is safe for the hedgehog and doesn’t contain litter, mesh, wire, netting etc and that ponds/swimming pools are covered or escape ramps provided.

 

In addition, rescues are unlikely to release hedgehogs into gardens with visiting badgers or which are on busy roads.

 

Permanent homes #

Rescues sometimes have disabled hedgehogs, for example those who are missing a leg, or are blind. There is some controversy and varying approaches amongst rescues here – some will release mildly compromised animals, some may seek permanent homes, and others are of the view that permanent captivity for hedgehogs is cruel. We understand all of these perspectives so the below is for information purposes only. We encourage you to have an open and respectful conversation with your local hedgehog rescues if you’re interested in offering a permanent home to a disabled hedgehog.

It is likely that in order to have a disabled hedgehog resident in your garden, the rescue will require you to

  • have a garden totally enclosed by a wall or fence which is sunken into the ground to prevent the hedgehog digging out
  • provide food for the hedgehog on a daily basis
  • catch the hedgehog regularly to check for health issues and monitor their weight
  • make provision for the care of the hedgehog if you go on holiday
  • undertake not to use any chemicals in your garden
  • keep any resident dogs under control so they cannot worry or harm the hedgehogs
  • ensure the garden is safe for the hedgehog and doesn’t contain litter, mesh, wire, netting etc.

 

A garden with a pond is unlikely to be a suitable home for a disabled hedgehog.

 

If you meet the criteria for either type of garden then do please get in touch with your local hedgehog rescuer to offer your help. You can search for your local hedgehog rescue by putting your location into the search facility at directory.helpwildlife.co.uk.

Updated on May 28, 2024
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