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Saving hedgehogs, one of the UK’s most recognisable animals

Publication: Newstead News

Learn how to help reduce the hedgehog's decline by following small steps in your garden.

Photo by Lisa McLeish| Licensed for use on Scottish Beacon | All rights reserved

Hedgehogs are one of the most recognisable animals in the UK. While they used to be a common sight in gardens, we are lucky to see one nowadays. Habitat loss, pesticides and roads mean we have lost over 50% of our rural population. Surprisingly, the decline has been less in urban areas, with an estimated loss of 30%.

A hedgehog’s ideal habitat is one with a mosaic of hedgerows, fields and woodland edges. Such habitats provide the best places for nesting, feeding and protection from predators. While we may not have control over changes in the countryside, we can help them in our gardens in many ways.

Create a hedgehog highway.

A single hedgehog can roam up to 2km per night, visiting anything up to 30 gardens at a time. One of the best ways to help is to create ‘hedgehog highways’ between gardens. Essentially a small gap in a fence or wall, these highways allow hedgehogs to pass from one garden to the next easily. This makes finding food and shelter easier and keeps them away from traffic.

Make your pond hedgehog-proof.

If you have a pond in your garden, then make sure it has a sloped, shallow end that will allow a hedgehog to escape if it falls in. Hedgehogs are surprisingly good swimmers but will soon tire and drown if they are unable to exit a pond.

Be a little bit messy.

Allow part of your garden to be a bit messy. This will provide space for hedgehogs to hide away and increase the number of insects in the garden for them to eat. Do be careful if you need to trim an area of the garden, and always check for hedgehogs first.

Put out food and water.

Leaving out meaty cat or dog food and a shallow bowl of water can provide a lifeline for hedgehogs at times when food is scarce. Never put out milk and bread for them as it makes them unwell.

Building hedgehog houses with Lisa McLeish on Newstead Village Green| Photo by Jane Nyberg | Licensed for use on Scottish Beacon | All rights reserved

Don’t use chemicals.

Avoid using chemicals in your garden, as these can be toxic to hedgehogs and reduce the prey available for them to eat.

Make a home for hedgehogs.

Creating log piles in your garden is a simple way to provide a home for hedgehogs; it is also a fun family activity too. There are also different hedgehog houses available to buy online, or you can have a go at making your own. Use them as a place to feed hedgehogs or even to attract them to stay and live in your garden.

Making any of these small changes can have a massive impact on local hedgehog populations. Why not pledge to do at least one and become a hedgehog hero?

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