A prickly combination

Pictured with a sprig of prickly seasonal holly, this festive little hedgehog should really be wrapped up and deep in slumber by now, hibernating through the long British winter. They often do so in well-insulated nests called hibernacula, sometimes found in log piles and hedgerows.

In autumn, hedgehogs eat their fill of high-energy foods to build up those all-important fat reserves to help them through the cold spell. But a mild winter can mean that some hedgehogs don’t hibernate and are then caught short by a cold snap. Or they might wake to build a new nest or look for food.

These much-loved British mammals have been in sharp decline for decades but there are a few things we can do to help them. Leaving a hole in your garden fence will let them roam around, a wild patch will provide shelter and encourage insects for them to feed on, and remember to keep gardens clear of hazards like litter, netting and slug pellets. Don’t feed them milk and bread – they are lactose intolerant – the Woodland Trust recommends giving them meat-based cat or dog food, hedgehog food and cat biscuits instead.