HOW CAN YOU HELP HEDGEHOGS IN YOUR AREA?
In the UK, hedgehogs are struggling to survive in urban communities. Since 1950, numbers have dropped from over 30 million to under 1 million - a 97% decrease. Fortunately, there are measures we can all take to help to ensure the survival of this wonderful species.
The plight of the UK hedgehog
Once a common nocturnal sight in countryside and urban areas alike, encounters with hedgehogs in the UK have become more and more rare. The decrease in hedgehog numbers can be attributed to any number of reasons, from residential gardens becoming more inaccessible, to the number of road fatalities increasing. Many wildlife rescue organisations do their part by rescuing hedgehogs in need, but there are many steps you can take to help our hedgehog population thrive once again too.
Residential gardens are habitats in which hedgehogs thrive, though unfortunately, due to many gardens being sealed off from one another, hedgehogs are forced to forage in the same gardens, and food sources deplete much faster. So what can you do?
Allow hedgehogs to pass freely into your garden by creating hedgehog-sized holes in your garden fences
Leave out water for hedgehogs in a large shallow dish
Leave out some food for hedgehogs - this is best left in large shallow dishes that make the food easily accessible. The best food to leave out is dry cat biscuit- please note that leaving out milk, sultanas, raisins or mealworms can cause hedgehogs some very serious health problems and can be fatal.
If you have a pond, ensure that at least one side has a shallow bank which a hedgehog can use to climb out, should one fall in
If possible, leaving a portion of your garden un-managed can be very beneficial to hedgehogs. These habitats can provide valuable nesting and foraging opportunities
Install a hedgehog shelter in your garden! These can be purchased online, or homemade if you have the right materials and tools! These are perfect shelters for your hedgehog food dishes, providing safe areas for hedgehogs to feed
If you have a large garden containing several hedgehog feeding stations, to prevent territorial hedgehogs from fighting, place feeding stations 2 to 3 metres apart
Be aware on the roads: always stick to the assigned speed limit. If you are driving on a road with natural surroundings, slow down and keep an eye out for movement on the road, especially at night-time.
If you see an animal casualty at the side of the road, if it is safe to do so, stop and check - the animal may be alive and injured. Please always remember to stop in a safe place, put your hazard lights on, and approach the casualty wearing fluorescent clothing.
Always check your garden before strimming/mowing it. Hundreds of hogs are brought to wildlife rescues every year due to sustaining injuries from garden maintenance.
Check bonfires, log-piles and compost heaps before interfering with them - a hedgehog may have taken up residence there!
Refrain from using chemical-based pest controls in your garden, such as slug pellets, as these can poison hedgehogs. Try natural alternatives instead.