Anyone with bird feeders in their gardens will have noticed how hard the birds have continued to feed, especially now that the rough, windy, wet weather and shorter days have arrived. It’s therefore remains important to ensure that feeders are kept clean and topped up regularly and that bird baths and water receptacles are well scrubbed and kept full with clean water; this will reduce the risks of birds passing on any illnesses to each other. It’s might also be worth considering putting up some high energy food such as fat balls or fat slabs, but please don’t hang these up using the plastic netting bags with which they are sometimes supplied; birds’ feet can easily become entangled and injured in this netting.
For advice on feeding go to one of RSPB links below.
In addition to providing water and the correct food for our feathered friends, we must not forget our dwindling hedgehog population. Hedgehogs are true hibernators; when conditions are right for hibernation, they are able drop their body temperature to match their surroundings and enter a state of torpor which allows them to save energy by slowing down bodily functions, making normal activity impossible. In recent years our Winter temperatures locally have seldom fallen below 5ºC for any length of time, so conditions for hibernation have been far from ideal; many hedgehogs will not have been able properly to hibernate and they will have been forced to venture out foraging for whatever food they can find during the lean Winter months.
As with the birds, it is also very important to keep a supply of clean, fresh water available for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs will eat tinned cat or dog meat (not fish) as well as dry* cat or dog food (*this will also help them to keep their teeth clean). The GSPCA and local pet shops also hold supplies of dried food specifically designed for hedgehogs. Whatever you do, please DO NOT feed hedgehogs bread and milk – as this could kill them. Please bear in mind that if hedgehogs are seen out in the daytime, it is possible that something is seriously wrong and they might be sick and in urgent need of help. Carefully place them in a box (so that they don’t waddle off into the undergrowth to die a slow death), while you go off to phone the GSPCA on 01481 257261 for advice. If you happen to find any sick or lean and underweight hedgehogs, these will also need our help. As a general guide an adult hedgehog should weigh at least 600gms in order to have enough reserves to survive hibernation, but if temperatures remain warm it is unlikely that they will hibernate properly, and their fat reserves will be rapidly depleted. The GSPCA is always available with expert advice and assistance.
In conclusion, please remember the hedgehogs when tidying up the garden and veg patch – strimmers, bonfires and slug pellets all spell disaster for hedgehogs! Who would want to be a hedgehog?
The links below have some useful information about feeding garden birds and hedgehogs.
E-mail: – firstname.lastname@example.org
or consult GSPCA on 257261
Other Wildlife (& Natural History) – Useful Local Information.