Bread and milk
Despite the old wive's tales, bread and milk can be lethal for hedgehogs. They cannot digest the bread which gets stuck in their gut and makes them very ill. They are also lactose intolerant so drinking milk will give them chronic diarrhoea, leading to dangerous levels of dehydration. Many hedgehogs die because of the wrong diet. A meaty dog or cat food and some water will provide them with all the energy they need.
Poisons and toxins
Please don’t use slug pellets containing metaldehyde. They are usually bright blue and (despite reassurances on the label), they are lethal to hedgehogs and other UK wildlife when they eat the poisoned pests. There is no antidote to metaldehyde and once consumed, the animal will eventually succumb to the toxins. Many other pesticides also contain this lethal toxin. There are lots of alternative methods you can use – see the FAQ page for more details. Some wood preservers are also poisonous to hedgehogs as they frequently lick freshly treated fences. As for an environmentally safe, water-based product from your local garden centre.
Netting in gardens
Every year, many hedgehogs become casualties after getting tangled in nets of all kinds. Plant and pond nets should be stretched tight and pegged down firmly and those hung vertically should clear the ground by 6”. If possible, sports nets should be rolled up when not in use and put away and any unused netting should be disposed of properly. Even net covers for small recycling boxes can pose a threat to hedgehogs, so make sure they are fixed securely in place.
Hedgehogs are actually rather good swimmers but can struggle to get out of a steep sided pond if they fall in. When planning your pond, try to make sure there is a shallow area or leave a ramp of bricks as an escape route. Alternatively, rigid fine gauge wire secured to the side would provide a means of scrambling out.
Traps and holes
Similarly, many hedgehogs get trapped in garage pits, unfilled post holes and drains. Try to cover all potential traps securely with something heavy to prevent any unwanted visitors 'dropping by'. Also opt for humane rat or squirrel traps and check them daily in case a headgehog is caught by mistake. Lastly, don't forget to check your shed, outhouse or greenhouse if you've been pottering around and make sure to seal them properly over night.
Strimmers are one of the most deadly things to cause injury to hedgehogs. Many hogs can't be saved and have to be put to sleep, others will get nasty infections resulting in abcesses and eventually blood poisoning. Always check undergrowth and built up garden materials before you start mowing, strimming or cutting back hedgehogs.
Bonfires, compost heaps and rubbish
These are all potential nest sights for hedgehogs. Please check carefully before forking over compost and clearing/burning any rubbish or unwanted garden waste. Always re-stack a bonfire just before lighting and light large community fires in one place only to give any wildlife a chance to wake up and escape before the flames reach them.