From Bats to Dormice, Hedgehogs to Foxes, our UK mammal population is vital for healthy ecosystems and provides us with a greater connection to nature, improving well-being.
Small mammals include insectivores, such as hedgehogs, moles and
shrews; and rodents, such as mice and voles. They are found in most
types of habitat, as long as there is a supply of food and suitable
vegetation to hide in. Most of them are important components of the
diets of larger carnivores and birds of prey. Not all species are
protected, and the levels of protection vary between species.
The amount of access and proximity to wild areas your green
space has will largely affect what kinds of small mammals you will
attract. However, you may be surprised how providing a protective
space for one species will encourage others!
All British bats eat insects, which makes them
a gardener's friend. Each species has its own favourites, but they
all need a lot to keep them satisfied as flying uses lots of
energy. A pipistrelle bat can eat more than 500 tiny insects in
just an hour!
All UK bat species are found in and around trees, woods and
hedgerows. Landscapes with trees
are crucial for the survival of bats, their feeding habits,
roosting and to help them navigate across the landscape. Dense
climbers on trees can attract
bats and other features such as floral resources, deadwood and
water will also benefit bats whose insect prey relies on a wide
variety to provide habitat.
Follow these simple steps suggested by Bat Conservation Trust to turn
your garden into a bat haven:
- Plant night-scented flowers
- Build a pond
- Let your garden go a little wild
- Put up a bat box
- Create linear features i.e hedgerows/treelines
- Reduce or remove artificial lighting
- Keep cats indoors at night
How else can I help bats?
Hedgehogs are at risk from loss of Habitats,
Regimented Gardening and Gardening Dangers (such as chemical
fertilisers, strimmers, loose netting and other gardening
Simple things we can do:
- Garden Access. All it takes is a 4 to 5" square hole in a
gravel board or fence to allow a hedgehog to get into the garden. A
hedgehog will travel through around ten or twelve gardens in a
night so if you can get some of the neighbours to put the gaps in
as well then this creates hedgehog corridors helping them move
around gardens to find food and nest sites and it keeps them away
from the danger of the road.
- Let an area grow wild or sow some wildflowers.
- Plant some shrubs (a mini hedge!). Cover is important for
wildlife and shrub cover provides damp, dark areas for insects, a
refuge and food opportunities for birds and home and foraging for
the hedgehog. Shrubs and hedges also provide safe corridors for
wildlife. Bats even use hedges as motorways- following them on
their nightly routes as we would a road.
- Ask your local council to consider letting some verges grow
wild and leave some of the grass in parks to grow along with the
- Have a log pile, compost heap. Damp dark areas attract insects
and provide food for invertebrates, birds, toads and
Avoid garden dangers:
- Avoid chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. Let
nature take care of it instead (frogs and toads are particularly
partial to slugs)!
- Keep netting off the ground (or do away with it all together by
planting extra 'sacrificial' produce for wildlife)
- Build a sloped edge in ponds so that hedgehogs and other
wildlife can escape if they fall in.
- Check for wildlife before working in the garden; be it mowing
long grass, strimming, digging, removing old growth or bushes,
cutting back, even turning the compost there could be wildlife that
has made its home there. A few minutes checking first saves
wildlife from stress, injury and often death.
- Keep the shed door closed and keep tools off the ground!
(Including anything sharp or containing chemicals)
How else can I help hedgehogs?
For more ways to get involved check out some of our
favourite organisations and projects: