Wild About Hedgehogs?

Much loved creature is declining as fast as the tiger

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Percy by Sheila Lodey

www.hedgehogstreet.org

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Hedgehogs are in trouble – they have declined by 30% in the last 10 years alone and there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK.

To help encourage people across Britain to think about how hedgehog friendly their gardens, schools and community spaces are, this year’s Wild About Gardens Week will form a week-long call to action and a celebration of the humble hedgehog, packed with events, competitions and opportunities to get stuck in.

It will take place during the annual celebration of garden wildlife ( Monday 26 October to Sunday 1 November 2015 ) hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts, who have teamed up with Hedgehog Street to highlight how gardeners can help our hedgehogs.

Twiggy, Patron of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said:  

“Seeing hedgehogs in our garden when I was a child was a magical experience. Now we all need to help these special mammals – and there’s so much that gardeners can do to reverse their decline. You can cut a small hedgehog hole at the bottom of your garden fence, leave wild nesting and hibernation areas, ditch the slug pellets and check that bonfire before striking the match! All so easy to do. Please help these wonderful creatures”

Hedgehog facts and figures:

  • ·         Hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30% since 2002
  • ·         Today there are estimated to be fewer than 1 million hedgehogs left in the UK. The main drivers are thought to be: declining hedgerow quality; the over-management of parks and green space; loss of gardens to paving/decking; reduced insect prey from chemical use in gardens and on farmland; loss of grazing land; the fragmentation of land by roads, fencing and increasing density of native predators.
  • ·         Adult hedgehogs travel between 1-2 kilometres per night over home ranges between 10-30 hectares in size.

Welcome the Hedgehog – detail from the Wild About Gardens Week booklet

To save the hedgehog we need people to work together with neighbours to make small changes that will make a big difference. This is crucial because no garden or green space can help hedgehogs in isolation, but when they are linked together hedgehogs can thrive in any urban space

Create hedgehog highways

Hedgehogs need to be able to roam far and wide in search of food, mates and nesting sites. Get together with your neighbours to cut a 13cm2 (5in2) hole in your fence or dig a channel beneath garden boundaries to connect your gardens. You can pledge to make a hole in your fence and map it at www.hedgehogstreet.org

Avoid the use of pesticides

Ditch the slug pellets and avoid the use pesticides. Hedgehogs are natural pest controllers and need a plentiful and varied supply of invertebrate prey to stay healthy.

Make water safe

Hedgehogs are great swimmers but can sometimes struggle to climb out of steep sided ponds and many drown. Provide a ramp out of a plank wrapped in chicken wire or create shallow areas at the edge so they can scramble out.

Provide nesting sites

Log and leaf piles, wilderness areas and purpose-built hedgehog homes make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Fallen leaves also make the perfect nesting material, so make sure you don’t clear all of these away.

Grow a wide variety of plants

Attract plenty of natural hedgehog food by keeping your garden diverse with a wide variety of habitats e.g. ponds, log piles, hedges, and a wide range of plant types. Don’t be afraid to let your grass grow a little wild and leave some leaf litter – as both are important homes for the hedgehog’s prey.

Be aware of dangers

Check for hidden hedgehogs before lighting bonfires, strimming and mowing the lawn. Keep plant netting, tennis nets and household rubbish above ground level to prevent entanglement.

Our prickly friends also need help in urban areas too. Here are some top tips for getting involved:

  • Post some invitations around your local neighbours to make them aware of what they can do to help. You could even throw a hedgehog-themed party to break the ice.
  • If you live in a flat, try and influence the management of local green space by attending management meetings or joining the ‘friends of’ group.
  • If you are worried about rats, don’t put out grain based foods on the floor. Take in any excess food when your hedgehogs have been for a visit.
  • If you do have hogs in your garden, you could set up a feeding station by cutting a clear hole in a plastic storage box and weighing down the lid with bricks: this will stop cats and foxes taking the food.
  • Keep an eye out for people doing work on their gardens, or using fencing contractors - this is a prime time to get a hedgehog hole put in and influence connectivity.

 

 


23rd July 2015

 

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