How can you help hibernating British animals, amphibians and insects during winter?

Hedgehogs in harmony

Hedgehog

Make your garden a haven for hedgehogs to hibernate in and they might just stay all winter. Compost heaps, large piles of leaves and that warm spot under the garden shed can provide safe habitats for hedgehogs during the colder months.

Try not to use pesticides and insecticides, safely dispose of harmful litter and make sure the coast is clear before using the lawnmower / strimmer.

A shallow edged pond helps provide a regular water supply and insects to live on.

 

Amphibian paradise

froggy

Most amphibians like to hibernate in piles of damp logs and leaves. Some, however, prefer the bottom of a garden pond.

If you don’t have a pond, sink ponds are safe and easy to create with a waterproof container, sand for the bottom layer that insects can burrow into, stones for the edges and small native plants to attract more life.

Rain rather than tap water is best used to fill your new pond paradise. Make sure there are enough stones for wildlife to climb up and avoid drowning. 

 

Bats-r-us

I am a bat

Some of us aren’t huge fans of these flying mammals, but bats are vital contributors to our eco-system helping pollinate flowers and maintain a healthy insect population. Bats like dark and quiet roosting spots that keep a consistent temperature.

Avoid using chemicals in the garden and encourage them to stay by fashioning a bat box out of rough cut timber and rubber. Find more details from this BBC bat house guide.

 

Butterfly boom

butterfly

It is necessary to attract more insects into your garden to keep other wildlife coming back. A pond is particularly good idea. This will attract insects, keep the mammals quenched, the amphibians housed and the bats happy (who love to feed above water). 

Butterfly species, such as the small tortoiseshell, will hibernate in the winter finding refuge in thick foliage or outhouses.

Try to plant flowers rich in nectar like verbena, scabious and ice-plant to get butterflies and bees interested. Simple cottage garden flowers are ideal as the nectar is easier to reach. 

 

Blissed out bees

bee

Some wild bee populations are close to extinction due to loss of habitat and urbanization. You can help bees thrive by leaving an area of your garden to grow wild for them to nest in.

You can also build your own nest by digging a hole, placing a ball of dry grass inside and covering with a flat stone leaving a small entrance.

As there are hundreds of different types of bee, they all prefer different flowers. Grow a variety of late and early flowering plants from native to small garden flowers to attract different bee variants.

Be sure to keep the same flowers together in large groups. 

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