Hedgehog numbers spike

Hedgehogs are making regular visits to almost a quarter of UK gardens, according to the RSPB‘s ‘Make Your Nature Count’ survey, published recently.

In rural areas, hedgehogs were reported in 48% of gardens, where more than a quarter of owners see them at least once a month.

Towns and cities have also seen a spike in sightings, with hedgehogs spotted in almost a third of urban gardens. Experts believe these findings prove that a loss of quality hedgehog habitat in the countryside is forcing them to seek refuge in unconventional places.

They have encouraged gardeners to be on the lookout for the prickly visitors, and to treat them kindly.
The survey’s organiser Richard Bashford said: ‘The range of creatures we have in UK gardens highlights how important wildlife-friendly gardening is, wherever you live, to ensure our fabulous wildlife continues to survive.’

Hedgehog expert Hugh Warwick agreed, adding: ‘Gardens are clearly very important for hedgehogs, a great example of a truly wild animal not only at home with us but also of great benefit to gardeners.’

Participation in the survey doubled in 2010, with over 90,000 people volunteering to count birds and mammals in almost 70,000 gardens. For the first time this year, the volunteers were also asked tasked with recording moles, roe deer and common birds.

14% of participants reported mole sightings, including molehills, and roe deer were seen in 5% of gardens, with the majority of sightings in Scotland.

The blackbird is still the most frequent avian visitor, recorded in 92% of all gardens, followed by the woodpigeon in 80%. The house sparrow takes third place, appearing in 74% of all gardens.

For more information on attracting wildlife to your garden, visit www.rspb.org.uk/hfw. Next year’s survey will take place from June 4-12.