Hedgehogs are one of the nation’s favourite mammals, but unfortunately populations across Britain have suffered a worrying decline over the past fifty years.
Lifeless manicured gardens, impenetrable fencing, busy roads and the use of pesticides and slug pellets has contributed to UK hedgehog numbers falling to less than 1 million today.
However, there is still a lot that can be done to help the population grow. Parks, gardens, and even cemeteries can provide vital habitats for hogs, and there are many simple ways people can help populations recover:
- Wildlife corridors – adult hedgehogs can travel between 1 and 2 km per night in search of food or a mate, so cutting ‘hedgehog holes’ into fences and railings will allow them to roam freely.
- Let your garden go wild (even if it’s just a little bit!) – avoid too much paving or artificial lawns and instead consider allowing gardens to have areas of rough grassland, hedges, and log piles. This will not only provide areas for hibernating and nesting, but also encourage invertebrate prey for them to feed on.
- Ditch the pesticides – Metaldehyde (the active ingredient in slug pellets) can be lethal for hedgehogs, and there are many alternatives out there. Most importantly, hedgehogs need a varied supply of invertebrate to feed on, so by encouraging them to your garden you’ll get your own natural “pest controllers”!
- Dangers – always remember to check bonfires before lighting, scrub before strimming and grassy areas before mowing, to a hedgehog all of these can seem like the perfect habitat to build a nest.
As part of monitoring the local hedgehog population our Valentines Mansion Garden team has been busy conducting their yearly hedgehog survey.
The survey supports the team’s in situ breeding programme for hedgehogs which was established over 8 years ago to help increase the population’s declining levels.