The decline in hedgehog numbers in Britain in recent decades has been shocking — but it seems that things might be stabilising, and these charming little creatures need our help. Hedgehog Street have shared ten things we can all do to help out.
There are 10 things you can do to help halt the decline of hedgehogs — down 50% in the countryside and 30% in urban areas since 2000 — says Hedgehog Street, the campaign launched 10 years ago by People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. These include creating wild corners, putting ramps over ponds, avoiding chemicals such as lawn treatments and slug pellets, making holes in fences and checking bonfires before they’re lit. In this anniversary year, the organisers hope to reach 100,000 Hedgehog Champions (there are currently some 90,000).
‘There is some good news,’ says hedgehog officer Grace Johnson. ‘Our State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report indicated that the rate of decline in our towns and cities appears to be stabilising. That is why we’re really pushing for everyone to do 10 things for hedgehogs during our birthday year. Gardens are a fantastic habitat if they have the right features. Our new garden challenge will provide bespoke advice to everyone.’
And there could be more good news for hedgehogs: a petition calling for the legal protection of hedgehog nesting sites at risk from housing development — a move that was tabled as an amendment to the Environment Bill in January — has topped 100,000 signatures. ‘All the other animals on the vulnerable-to-extinction list are subject to schedule 5 [the part of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act that provides habitat protection] so hedgehogs just need to catch up with that,’ explains the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s Fay Vass.
What you can do to help save hedgehogs, from Hedgehog Street
1. Hedgehog Highways
Link your garden with 13cm square gaps in fences to allow hedgehogs access to as many gardens as possible.
2. Create a wild corner
Leave an area of the garden wild and undisturbed will provide nesting materials and insect prey for hedgehogs.
3. Leave out food and water
Meaty cat or dog food will supplement a hedgehog’s natural diet of creepy crawlies. Don’t forget a shallow dish of clean fresh water too.
4. Make a home for hedgehogs
A log pile or more structured hedgehog house will provide a safe nesting site for hedgehogs.
5. Make ponds safe
Hedgehogs can get trapped in slippery steep-sided ponds so ensure yours has shallow sides or an escape ramp.
6. Deal with litter and netting
Removing litter and tying up loose garden netting will prevent hedgehogs getting tangled and trapped.
7. Stop using chemicals
Lawn treatments and slug pellets reduce invertebrate numbers, and may cause direct harm too, so go organic for hedgehogs.
8. Check before strimming/mowing
Check areas carefully before using garden equipment to prevent any nasty accidents.
9. Take care with bonfires
Build or move a bonfire on the day of burning to make sure there are no hedgehogs hiding inside.
10. Spread the word
While hedgehogs across most of Britain have been in a worryingly steep decline, those in the Channel Islands fare better
Joel Aston — one half of the 'butterfly brothers', along with his sibling Jim — explains how rewilding gardens to attract