Us hedgehogs are really suffering at the moment. We might look like durable and adaptable creatures but we have been pushed to the limit over the last 50 years. In the 1950s, there were an estimated 30 million of us, now there is less than a million.
A hedge blog by Hedgy McHogface
My grandad only had to wander up his neighbouring hedgerow for 5 minutes on a Friday night before bumping into my nan for the first time. I'm almost 2 years old and it's taking me ages to find a mate. There are hardly any female hedgehogs out there to meet...and when I do meet one, she has usually already been snapped up by another male.
A lot of people wonder why hedgehogs are declining so dramatically. Everyone loves hedgehogs and talk about us when they see us. Beatrix Potter liked hogs so much, she even created Mrs Tiggywinkle. But it very clear to some people that they don't see as many of us as they used to.
It isn't just one factor that is affecting us. My mum drowned in a steep-sided garden pond while she was trying to have a drink when I was 6 months old. One of my brothers died when he got caught up in some plastic netting that someone has dumped in a ditch. Uncle John, a usually very wise hedgehog, met a painful death after making an unwise decision to have a nap in an overgrown roadside verge on the day that a gardener was using a brushcutter. He didn't stand a chance. And neither did Aunty Eleanor, who on one cold early November evening took shelter in a lovely big pile of dry wood only to discover that it was actually a bonfire...by which time it was too late.
I have heard many stories about hedgehogs suffering slow and painful deaths from ingesting slug pellets when they foraged for slugs in and around gardens and farmland.
But one of the biggest problems for hedgehogs and many other species is the dramatic changes that have taken place to the landscape of the 21st century. We have lost thousands of miles of the hedgerows we depended on to move around safely to find food and mates. Farming intensification has led to huge field creation; vast open expanses that offer no refuge for wildlife. There are more roads and more traffic than ever before; we risk our lives every time we venture out to find dinner.
We found that gardens were actually quite nice places to call home and we could easily wander from one garden to the next on an evening of foraging. But nowadays, developers often insist on using block paving and tarmac over grassy lawns and concrete base panels on fencing, making it more difficult for me to move around freely. Instead of just nipping under the fences to see my mate Gary for a chat at the weekend, I now have to squeeze myself under a garden gate, cross a driveway then dash along a busy road. I nearly didn't make it last week. It was the last straw.
So, I call on humans to help us. It can be done and it isn't even that hard. All you need to do is the following:
Allow access and exit points in your garden so we can move around more easily. If you have a concrete base on your fence, please cut a 20cm diameter hole in it for us.
Stop using slug pellets. They kill us. And we eat your slugs, so you don't really need slug pellets!
Check your bonfire before lighting it, we may be hiding underneath!
Leave out bowls of water for us when the weather is hot and dry
Have a "wild area" in a corner of your garden...let the weeds grow tall and leave some logs out for us to hide under
If you have a garden pond, put a ramp on one end so we can get out easily if we fall in