Animal charities across the country are urging the public to help combat declining numbers of wild hedgehogs, once a common sight in household gardens.

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Animal charities across the country are urging the public to help combat declining numbers of wild hedgehogs, once a common sight in household gardens.

According to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society there are just 1 million of the prickly creatures left compared to 30 million in the 1950s.

The worrying statistics were released to coincide with the arrival of thousands of tiny hoglets and Bonfire Night next Wednesday. Hedgehogs usually give birth in the early months of winter but the babies have only seven weeks before they leave the litter and are forced to fend for themselves against increasingly difficult conditions.

One charity at the forefront of hedgehog preservation is the Wildlife Aid Foundation. They, in collaboration with B&Q, have created special ‘drive-thru.’ The feeding stations can be filled with the enticing smell of mealworm and the small openings allow the animals pass through and build up important fat reserves.

help the hedgehogs

Amongst the problems hedgehogs face are garden fences which restrict their freedom and access to food. With roughly four months of hibernation looming the animals are often forced to forage for food in broad daylight, putting them at the mercy of predators, in order to reach the ideal weight for survival. A tiny 500 to 600 grams.

Next week presents even more challenges. The piles of logs, leaves and garden debris constructed for bonfire night are an attractive food source and place of cover for hedgehogs. Unfortunately, in cold temperatures, they are often unable to escape the roaring flames.

To help the hedgehog we have put together some top tips for aiding their survival this autumn:

  • The majority of garden centres sell attractive looking nesting boxes to provide shelter for resident hedgehogs. Homeowners can also leave out shallow dishes of fresh water, dog and cat food (nothing with fish in it) or chopped up boiled eggs.
  • If possible create a series of small gaps in your fences to allow hedgehogs to come and go.
  • Keep an eye out for hungry hoglets and distressed looking hedgehogs, especially around the bottom of bird tables. Bring them inside and place inside a tall cardboard box with a hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel, fresh water, meaty cat or dog food and room to move around in the bottom. Call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890 801 who will direct you to the nearest shelter.
  • The RSPB recommend leaving bonfire building until the last minute, preferably on the day of lighting to prevent creatures moving in overnight, and checking the pile thoroughly before lighting.

Visit the Wildlife Aid Foundation’s website to find out more about their ‘Saving Harry’ campaign and how you can help make a difference.

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