Can we call it “winter” now? I mean, I know it’s just turned November ― but the sun’s down before 5pm, my extra-thick coat has come out of its vacuum-packed home, and my garden’s autumn bounty has officially faded away.
We’re not the only species to feel the shift, either. Birds, bats, hedgehogs, and bees are starting to struggle in the less-plentiful season ― but it turns out that digging a teeny-tiny hole in your garden could help.
“Combined, our gardens provide a space for wildlife larger than all our National Nature Reserves, so by gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, we can help our spiky companions move around safely and find a home,” The National Wildlife Trusts shared.
But unless the critters have a way into your garden, all of that land is practically useless to animals.
Why does digging a hole help?
“Hedgehogs must feed intensively and be in great condition before hibernating if they are to have enough reserves to last the winter,” Wild About Gardens says.
In fact, the average hedgehog roams 2km a night. To get into prime resting state, they need access to food ― and somewhere to hibernate in the first place.
We’ve written before about how helpful it can be to pile your dead leaves into a leaf bay or heap rather than removing them entirely (this helps to provide insects and shelter for hedgehogs and other beasts).
We’ve also shared how meat-based cat and dog foods can nourish hedgehogs when left out in your garden ― but without a hedgehog hole to access these, your efforts might be futile.
How can I create a hedgehog highway?
Cutting a small hole in your fence panel with a coping saw, and digging under your pence, removing bricks from walls all work, the RSPCA says. “Hedgehogs can travel through gaps as small as 13x13cm, so these gaps don’t need to be large,” they add.
Of course, you’ll want to get your neighbour’s permission before creating the hole ― especially if you want to create a multi-garden hedgehog highway all down your street with the help of your neighbours.
“Keep an eye out for neighbours doing work on their gardens, or using fencing contractors ― this is the perfect opportunity to get a hedgehog hole put in,” The Wildlife Trust suggests.
The Wildlife Trust’s Hedgehog Street programme encourages people to link their gardens to create a hazard-free, insect-rich pathway. You can go to their go to the national network at Hedgehog Street to record your own hedgehog hole.
Right, I’m off to dig a hole...