nature

Save Our Hedgehogs!

Would it surprise you to know that there are probably less than a million Hedgehogs left in England? You might read that and think ‘Well, a million’s a lot!’ But that number has fallen from around about 30 million in the 1950s and the speed of this population decline keeps increasing. Think about it. When was the last time you saw a hedgehog? Was it flat? There you have just one of the problems facing Hedgehogs today. Their natural defence of curling into a ball does nothing to help them when confronted with an oncoming vehicle! 


The ever increasing amounts of land used for housing for humans has meant that Hedgehogs are being edged out of their habitats. Increasing numbers of badgers mean that rural habitats aren’t suitable for them either. The hedgehog truly is between a rock and a hard place! Hedgehogs can range up to 2km in a night so they cover a lot of distance. If you’ve even been lucky enough to see one you will know that they can move surprisingly fast! 


But what can we do to help these little guys? Well, first, know that if you see a hedgehog out during the day it is in trouble. If you are able to do so, catch it (remember gloves!) and take it to your nearest vet or rescue centre. These pictures above show a small female hedgehog I found while walking the dog last week. I managed to catch her and take her to a local hedgehog rescue. Sadly, she had two very infected legs (one a badly healed break) and she was so underweight it was impossible to treat her.  Below are pics of an old, male hedgehog I found last summer. Sadly he had an advanced case of pneumonia and a host of pests and diseases.

Probably the most help you can give a hedgehog is to help before they get so sick you see them. Here are some ways you can help:

Make a hedgehog hole. If you have a fenced in garden make a small hedgehog hole in the bottom of the fence (13x13cm is perfect) so that a hedgehog can enter and exit on its nightly hunt for slugs and beetles. 

Make a hedgehog house. There are fabulous plans available online to make hedgehog houses giving somewhere safe to shelter to our little spiny friends. Or you could just leave a pile of old branches and leaves in a neglected corner for them to make their own. They love long grass too so consider setting aside a wildlife strip. 

Provide food and water. If you want to attract Hedgehogs to your garden so they can munch on pests such as slugs and beetles you can set out food (dry cat or kitten food and meaty, not gravy, cat or dog food are good, no fish) and make sure there’s a safe container (ponds can be hazardous) for them to drink from. Do not feed them bread and milk, this is likely to make them very sick! If you have a host of neighbourhood cats, as we do, who would take advantage of this food you can also easily construct hedgehog feeding stations that cats can’t get into. 

Donate to your local hedgehog rescue. These organisations can be few and far between and are usually ordinary people in ordinary houses trying to make a difference in the face of some staggering odds. They need all the help they can get! Here are the links to the two local rescues who have taken in Hedgehogs I’ve found in the last year:

http://www.littlesilverhedgehog.com/ – with a lovely blog full of info, including building houses and feeding stations. She also sells handmade jewellery to raise funds for her hedgehog hospital.

http://www.thewildlifehaven.co.uk/ – all sorts of wildlife cared for here! 

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