The Plight of the Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are active at night when most of us are tucked up in bed, so it can be easy to forget about our spiky friends. However, if you were to put a camera out and let it record your garden as you sleep, you might be surprised at what it would capture; there is another world of wildlife that roams beneath the twinkling stars, and you may even discover that a hedgehog or two visits you during the night! During this time, hedgehogs can travel miles, looking for a mate or rooting through hedges and undergrowth in the search for food including insects, worms and snails.

How many hedgehogs are there in the UK?

Believe it or not, hedgehog sightings used to be much more common, but since 2002 the species’ population has declined by 30%. Studies reveal there are only about one million left in the UK.

Some wildlife groups claim that hedgehog numbers are ‘down by half’. Britain’s favourite mammals are in a catastrophic decline. With habitat loss and climate change altering our winters, combined with growing urban sprawl, our natural world is changing – for species like the hedgehog time is running out fast. The mild winters are affecting hibernation – hedgehogs are coming out of hibernation earlier than ever before, or not hibernating at all, adding further to their plight.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom! There are a number of ways we can help – especially if we are willing to share our garden spaces and follow some simple guidelines.

How you can help save the hedgehog?

  1. Provide hedgehog food and water (never milk – hedgehogs are lactose intolerant)
  2. Provide a hedgehog home sited in a quiet part of your garden.
  3. Provide holes and gaps in fences – because of contemporary garden design, hedgehogs struggle to find suitable places to squeeze through. Providing gaps and channels in gardens is an ideal way to make your garden hog friendly. Holes for hedgehogs to pass through ideally be around 13cm x 13cm and at ground level.
  4. It’s common practice for hedgehogs to hide away in thick foliage, so if you’re out in your garden and looking to tidy around, be careful not to disturb a sleeping hog.
Hawfinch bill

What could harm hedgehogs?

Here are a few things to bear in mind for the safety of your hedgehogs:

  1. Avoid chemicals such a slug pellets, which, because slugs can be a bit of a treat, can be incredibly harmful if digested by hedgehogs.
  2. Be careful of any roaming animals, such as dogs. Keep an eye on your dog, especially in the evenings.
  3. Cover drains and gullies – if a hedgehog falls in a drain unfortunately it will get stuck.
  4. Provide rocks and planting baskets for ponds – hedgehogs can swim if they do accidently fall in but they can’t climb up slippery edges. Providing rocks, and planting baskets will create a way out.
  5. Check bonfires – before lighting your bonfire turn it over to double check there are no sleeping hogs.

If you want to know more about hedgehogs hibernating click here.

Recommended products for hedgehogs

4kg Hedgehog Food

Dry, crunchy and made entirely from natural products, our hedgehog food is nutritious, helps maintain healthy teeth and gums and is easy to store for long periods. Blended with a mixture of dried fruit, berries, nuts and crunchy nuggets.

Click to view

Spike’s Meaty Feast – 100g

A moist and meaty hedgehog feast that can be fed on its own or combined with our Hedgehog Food or the Spike’s Delicious Crunchy Dry Food.

Click to view

Brambles Crunchy Hedgehog Food

Brambles Crunchy Hedgehog Food is a complementary food specially formulated to give the right balance of nutrients, vitamins & minerals for wild hedgehogs and, due to its crunchy texture, is also great for dental health.

Click to view

Igloo Hedgehog Home

Protect your prickly visitors from the dangers of modern life such as garden tools as well as pets and other predators by providing them with their own safe place to call home. The open space inside is big enough to house a family group such as a mother and her hoglets.

Click to view

Sources:

  • Wildlife Trust
  • People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)