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National Hedgehog Day – How Can We Protect Hedgehogs?

National Hedgehog Day – How Can We Protect Hedgehogs?

As the darkness of the night creeps in and under a blanket of moonlight the scoffing of a hedgehog can be heard in the hedgerow. A quick rustle of leaves and I catch a glimpse of him scuttling across the lawn into a log pile. These nocturnal creatures are a gardeners best friend, hoovering up slugs and snails throughout the night.

National Hedgehog Day - How can we protect hedgehogs? Hedgehog in hibernation

Sadly, in 2020, the hedgehog was listed on the ICUN red list of endangered mammals, declaring them as vulnerable to extinction in the next 20 years. Hedgehogs are in decline due to a lack of habitat, food, urbanisation, and the use of pesticides and toxic chemicals in our back gardens and agriculture. With the increase in urbanisation, pockets of green space are becoming bordered, often trapping hedgehogs into one area. This not only decreases their food sources but also their chance of reproduction.

This being said, it is not all doom and gloom. Working together we can help protect and care for this species. As National Hedgehog Day is on the 2nd February we wanted to show you how you can play your part in taking care of the humble hedgehog throughout the year.

Hedgehog Highways:

Hedgehogs love to roam and if you have a closed in garden space, try to make a way out. Hedgehog Street is a campaign linking gardens around the UK to create a hedgehog highway. They need little space to fit through so 13cm by 13cm is adequate. Once you have made a hole in your fence, wall, gate or border you can update it on The Big Hedgehog Map, and follow the efforts of others throughout the UK.

Hedgehog homes:

Manicured gardens as a design trend provides little protection or hibernation space. Combe Grove has 64 acres of continuous land for mammals to roam. There is both woodland and grassland creating diverse habitats for wildlife. You can help at home by crafting shelter for hedgehogs in your gardens. You can purchase ready-made hedgehog houses, but you can also easily make log piles which provide a dry space for hibernation.

Tidying: 

When tidying in your garden make sure you check for hibernating hedgehogs in hibernaculum. Raking, strimming and mowing can be fatal so make sure you check leaf piles, undergrowth or when creating bonfires. Cover over drains, large holes, and make sure ground level ponds have a slope in them so hedgehogs can get out if they fall in.

Pesticides: 

Be mindful of the chemicals you use when gardening. At Combe Grove we practice organic gardening, see more about how to do this on our ‘Healthy Soil, Happy Vegetables’ blog. Many pesticides are potentially dangerous to hedgehogs including slug pellets. When foraging for food hedgehogs can pick up slug pellets or more likely eat slugs which have been poisoned.

Food: 

In April, hedgehogs will be coming out of hibernation, this is a vital time for nutrition intake so you can help by putting out supplement food. Use either wet dog/cat food at night and make sure you supply a source of water.

For more information on how you can help hedgehogs further head over to British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for endangered species.

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