Regardless of whether your garden is in the heart of the city or deep in the countryside the chances are that you will receive the occasional visitor. But, wherever you are or whatever the size of your garden with a little work you are sure to be rewarded with sights of native British mammals.
Though most native mammals thrive regardless of the weather; cold snaps such as the one we just had, and if the weatherman is to be believed another one in the coming weeks, can take its toll on some of your garden visitors. There are some simple steps that you can do to encourage native mammals to visit your garden.
There are three basic necessities of any wild animal and this blog will give advice on how to provide them in your own garden.
All mammals need to drink. The easiest way to provide water to passers by is to leave out shallow bowls of water. Bowls of water are accessible to all and will provide much needed refreshment. Be aware – hedgehogs like milk but it may cause severe diarrhoea in youngsters; therefore, it is best to provide fresh water each night in a shallow bowl.
Another way, albeit a more extravagant way, of providing water is creating a pond in your garden. This option also has the added benefit of establishing a focal point in your garden. A pond however is potentially hazardous for small mammals such as hedgehogs; the banks of a pond should be shallow enough to allow small mammals an easy escape route. Though hedgehogs are excellent swimmers if they are unable to get out of a pond they are likely to drown. If you already have an established pond with steep banks a plank of wood will provide a much needed escape route.
Many of the trees, plants and shrubs that grow in our gardens will provide enough food throughout the year for your visitors; however, some native mammals may not have acquired the taste for non-native plants and fruits that many of us grow in our garden.
Artificial feeding is good way of regularly attracting mammals into your garden, and will provide you with many more opportunities to see visiting mammals. When it comes to artificial feeding simplicity is the best policy. Cooked foods and sugary treats are to be avoided with raw foods such as seeds and nuts, or canned pet food (though fish options are to be avoided) are the way forward. Though any supplementary food options will be greatly received, particularly this time of the year, most garden centres now stock a wide variety of specialist food products such as spikes hedgehog food.
Tip: As well as placing food in easily accessible places scatter some food across the lawn, this way your visitors spend time sniffing out the treats providing you with more time to see your visitors.
Many of our smallest native mammals such as hedgehogs and mice find warmth and safety in piles of leaves of compost heaps. It is essential to check built up areas of foliage before disturbing them for small mammals; hedgehogs may even choose to hibernate in particularly dense areas of foliage. There are also many manmade shelters available to buy for birds and hedgehogs. Hedgehog boxes should have a long tunnel entrance which prevents predators such as badgers and foxes getting to the nesting hedgehogs.
The territory of native mammals is vast so if you do find the treats you leave out disappearing don’t assume that you are receiving the same visitor, you may well receive as many as ten different guests a night. I hope this blog has been of assistance and I wish you the best of luck in attracting native mammals into your garden.
This article was written by Leigh