IN THE COMMUNITY: California Gardeners’ Club

By Lynn Potts

Our April meeting proved very popular, with over 60 people coming to hear Pat Morris give a talk on Hedgehogs.

He is very knowledgeable, having done his PhD on hedgehogs and studied them for many years.

They are widespread throughout the country, including Ireland and the Isle of Man.

They are not territorial although they avoid one another, and you might find that your friendly hog is in fact several different ones; they cover a lot of ground in a night, males up to 30 hectares, and females 9 or 10.

They eat a wide range of food, mainly beetles, but also earwigs, worms, spiders, slugs and grubs. If they come across eggs or carrion, that will be eaten too. Feeding them will do no harm and helps the younger ones to gain enough weight to hibernate successfully.

Dog and cat food are suitable; milk gives them diarrhoea, so best avoided.

They have four or five young at a time, born without spines, which grow within two weeks, 60% die in their first year, they average three or four years, but can get to over 10.

They face many threats; roadkill, mowing machines, strimmers, litter, netting, ponds, cattle grids, and badgers, which can eat them.

Weedkillers and insecticides can be poisonous and turf chemicals kill the grubs they feed on. Also there is more land in intensive cultivation now, and less hedges.

Our next meeting is on May 6, when Mark Dodd will give a talk on Wellington College.

For more, visit www.californiagardenersclub.co.uk

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