Hedgehogs are in trouble; in the past 50 years their numbers have declined by around 30 percent and there are now thought to be fewer than 1 million left in the UK. Their decline can be put down to factors such as loss of hedgerows, fewer green spaces, over management of parks and gardens and the use of chemical pesticides, which cut down on the amount of insects there are for hedgehogs to eat.
But there is plenty we can do to help our prickly friends! This week is Hedgehog Awareness Week, organised by the Hedgehog Society, the week aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs are facing and how we can help them.
Did you know? Hedgehogs can travel between 1-2km per night, moving around entire housing estates and neighbourhoods! They are found across the UK and hedgerows, gardens, woodlands, grasslands and parks are all important hedgehog habitats.
Hedgehogs are a gardener’s best friend, they help out by eating all kinds of garden pests including beetles and slugs. Having a wildlife friendly garden with an insect rich lawn and flowerbeds make great feeding grounds for hedgehogs.
*Create Hedgehog Highways – hedgehogs need to roam to search for food, mates and nesting sites. Cutting a small hole in the bottom of your garden fence can create a corridor for them to move easily between gardens. A 13cm by 13cm hole is sufficient, learn more here.
*Ditch the pesticides – get rid of poisonous garden pesticides and slug pellets.
*Provide nesting sites – log and leaf piles and purpose built hedgehog homes make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Log piles will also house lots of invertebrates for hedgehogs to eat.
*Keep them safe – hedgehogs can sometimes struggle to climb out of ponds, provide a ramp or create shallow areas at the edge so they can scramble out. Check your compost heaps before digging in with a fork and also make sure you check for hiding hedgehogs when lighting a bonfire.
Read more here about helping hedgehogs in our Wild About Gardens booklet.
Photo: Tom Marshall