hedgehog-1644129_960_720Barratt Homes is urging its customers to help their prickly neighbours this Bonfire Night with five tips on making gardens into a haven for hedgehogs.

The developer, which has joined forces with the RSPB to set a new benchmark in wildlife friendly developments, is encouraging households to watch out for hedgehogs and other small animals that may take shelter in pre-lit bonfires.

Hedgehog experts from Hedgehog Street (a joint campaign between People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society) offer various top tips at www.hedgehogstreet.org for helping hedgehogs, including advice and guidance on how to build a hedgehog home or where to buy one.

New homeowners are also being encouraged by wildlife experts to open up their own ‘hedgehog highways’ between their gardens, as thriving hedgehog populations need access to numerous gardens. This can be as simple as a CD-sized hole in the bottom of the fence. Once a hole has been created, homeowners can log this via Hedgehog Street’s BIG Hedgehog Map.

Barratt’s five-star plan for anyone looking to help hedgehogs in their own garden includes:

  1. Create a haven for your garden hedgehog. A hedgehog habitat provides a dry, safe home but even a board against a fence will be a welcome retreat for your night time visitor.
  2. Cover drains and holes as a hedgehog may fall in, and ensure there is an escape route in ponds. Always check for hedgehogs before using strimmers or mowers, particularly under hedges where animals may rest.
  3. Don’t touch a hedgehog unless you think it is injured. If you do have to pick up a hedgehog, make sure you wear suitable gardening gloves or use a folded towel.
  4. Put out fresh water for hedgehogs in the garden but don’t feed them milk as they are lactose intolerant.  Tinned meaty cat or dog food and even dry cat or dog food is a useful addition to a hedgehog’s diet.
  5. Speak to your neighbours about hedgehogs and their plight, to encourage them to make a hole in their fence too.

It is estimated that there are fewer than a million hedgehogs remaining in Britain, with up to a third of the population having been lost since the millennium.

Barratt Homes has a long term pledge to create more wildlife friendly developments, by working with the RSPB and giving nature a new home, and these hedgehog shelters are an integral part of this mission.

Mike Cowie, sales and marketing director at Barratt North Scotland, said: “Our partnership with the RSPB is extremely important to us and we want to work closely with our customers to ensure our British wildlife is preserved at our developments.

“As the darker and colder nights draw in it is important to remember our smaller neighbours too, and something as little as a hedgehog habitat can make the world of difference.”

The move has been welcomed by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which offers help and advice to those with sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs.

Chief executive Fay Vass said: “We are delighted to hear that Barratt and David Wilson Homes are offering these shelters for hedgehogs.

“Hedgehog numbers are in severe decline so we welcome any action to help them from both the public and businesses alike, and would particularly like to encourage people living in brand new homes to create hedgehog highways.”

A ‘hedgehog highway’ is created by linking up multiple gardens and allowing safe passage for the creatures to come and go. As well being a proven method helping hedgehogs, it’s also a great way to meet your neighbours and improve your local community.

Mike Cowie added: “We want people to be able to look out for hedgehogs as winter approaches, and make their gardens a home for nature.

“We’ve teamed up with the RSPB and Hedgehog Street to come up with these top tips to show homeowners how they can make a difference.”