This week is Hedgehog awareness week as organised by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society. It aims to highlight the issues hedgehogs face so that we can all learn how to help them in some way.
Hedgehog populations have declined seriously since the 1950’s where research suggests a previous population of 30,000,000 compared to a recent population of around 1,000,000. Ecologists suggest that the population plummeted by over a third between 2003 and 2012 which is catastrophic.
The exact reason for their decline can probably be down to various factors which include: more intensive agriculture with the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands; the use of pesticides which kills off the hedgehogs prey; smaller, tidier gardens with fencing which prevent the travel of hedgehogs between gardens; an increase of road traffic, road and new houses.
It has also been suggested that slug pellets will still produce a poisonous toxic slug which in turn will poison a hedgehog, regardless to whether it is labelled as pet friendly pellets, but this research is still not 100% proven. To be on the safe side, however, I would use organic slug repellents like beer traps or broken egg shells around the base of plants.
One of the topics which is one of the most important is learning what a hedgehog likes to eat. Feeding it bread and milk can kill it, but still people do this. Hedgehogs like slugs and worms, so a good substitute is cat and dog food (not fish based). Never give them milk as this can cause diarrhea. Water is always best.
Hedgehog Friendly Garden
In order to help your hedgehog friends, please follow some of the following pointers:
1) Don’t be so fastidious in clearing up leaves.
2) PLEASE be careful when you strim, as there are so many hedgehog casualties every year with strimmers.
3) Don’t block off your garden – if you have dogs, please try and leave some small hedgehog friendly gaps here and there in order to allow them free passage.
4) Make sure your pond has an easy way out and cover over dangerous drains.
5) Always build a bonfire right at the last minute and if it has sat there for a while, PLEASE check it before lighting it as hedgehogs love to hide in these.
6) Netting on the ground for fruit protection can entangle hedgehogs – use responsibly and check frequently.
7) Stop using Slug Pellets – find a safe alternative
8) Plant more hedges around your garden
9) Leave areas of your garden wild with piles of leaf litter and logs.
10) Buy some hedgehog houses for your garden or lean some boards up against a wall (this is before hibernation time mainly)
11) Keep shed doors closed at all times & poisons off the floor.
12) Leave food out for them – meat based cat & dog food. Fresh water.
13) Rubbish can trap hedgehogs, so clean up any rubbish.
For more Information on how you can help your hedgehogs, please visit:
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society: