Hedgehogs

Image result for hedgehogsAs popular and cute as these creatures are, numbers are dwindling at a scary rate
– especially in rural areas.

Hedgehog street   Experts say areas in and around towns and villages can be excellent habitats for hedgehogs, which they often prefer over farmland.

British gardens have become poorer homes for wildlife with increased paving, decking, and reduced plant life. More roads and housing mean a loss of connectivity between green spaces, leaving hedgehogs isolated. How can we change this? Easy!

  • Gardens and green spaces linked with ‘hedgehog highways’ (holes!) in fences
  • More wild areas and log piles in gardens for insects and other wildlife
  • More hedgehog houses and feeding stations in gardens

Rural areas   Hedgehogs, nocturnal and solitary creatures, are thought to be scarcer in rural areas for a number of reasons. Intensive farming methods can reduce the quantity and quality of hedgehog habitat, and studies are underway to identify the types of features in habitats that benefit hedgehogs. Problems include:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation – larger fields and the loss of hedges and copses result in fewer nesting sites and less protection for hedgehogs
  • Prey availability – insect larvae and soil invertebrates, such as earthworms and slugs, make up a large part of hedgehogs’ diet but can be scarce in agricultural soils. Fewer insect larvae, such as caterpillars and beetle grubs, may impact on hedgehogs and other species
  • Predation – in the UK, badgers are the main wild predator of hedgehogs, but foxes can also cause injuries and kill young animals. Badgers and hedgehogs co-exist in many areas and a better understanding of the habitat features that support both is needed.

What could you do?   Check out the British Hedgehog Preservation Society‘s website for more information about on what you can do to encourage hedgehogs in your garden. They have leaflets and posters that you can download and share with others, whether friends and neighbours, or through your village shop, for example. There are also ideas to fundraise to help the charity achieve its aims. Email or call 01584 890801.

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