What to do for mammals, reptiles and amphibians in April
Frogs, toads and hedgehogs emerge from hibernation as the weather gets milder.
Frogs and toads usually mate around this time, the males calling for females in the evenings. If you have a pond, you may see it come alive with squirming amphibians and foaming spawn. You can tell spawns apart by looking more closely: frogspawn is usually in jelly-like clumps; toad spawn is in long double strands; newt spawn is laid individually on the stems of pondweeds, and is usually the last to appear. Goldfish eat tadpoles so do not introduce spawn into fishponds.
If you want to make an existing formal pond more wildlife friendly, you could phase out the fish, add ‘steps’ to counteract steep sides (so that birds, mammals and amphibians can enter and exit more easily), soften the edges with marginal planting (which will also provide hiding and breeding places for wildlife), and introduce a few native species to an otherwise exotically planted pond. Suitable examples include marsh marigold Caltha palustris, water mint Mentha aquatica and yellow flag iris Iris pseudacorus. Be aware that native species can be more vigorous than some non-native species, and regular thinning is therefore advised.
Hedgehog and badger food is now available for sale. It is not a good idea to feed hedgehogs with bread and milk, as this is not their natural diet. Dog food is a viable alternative.
Foxes and badgers are less in evidence at this time of year, as they are likely giving birth to their cubs underground.