Hedgehogs are charismatic and well-loved creatures, but they are undergoing a concerning decline.
According to the latest State of Britain's hedgehogs report, numbers of hedgehogs have fallen by up to 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas since the Millennium.
Find out what we are doing and how you can help below.
Hedgehogs are Britain's only prickly mammal and one of few true hibernators. From November to March when their insect food is in short supply, hedgehogs hunker down in nests made from layered leaves. They emerge in the spring, hungry and looking for mates.
Why are hedgehogs declining? 🦔
There is no single cause, which makes it harder to tackle.
Habitat loss - Loss of nesting and foraging habitat through development (urban) and hedgerow removal (rural).
Fragmentation of habitats - Impermeable fencing and lack of connectivity through hedgerows can result in limited movement and isolated hedgehog populations.
Competition - Badgers predate hedgehogs and fragment the landscape where hedgehogs avoid them. They also compete for food (e.g. worms, beetles). The relationship is complex but hedgehogs are decreasing in areas where badgers are absent too.
Road Casualties - Up to 335,000 hedgehogs are estimated to die on British roads annually.
Injuries - Hedgehogs are brought to rescue centres with garden injuries (e.g. from strimmers, netting, dog bites).
Lack of food - Chemical treatment of land (e.g. pesticides, fertilizers) can perhaps lead to poisoning, but largely reduces invertebrate diversity and adundance.
Our work for hedgehogs 🦔
Nature Recovery Networks - Fragmentation of habitats across the UK has meant that hedgehogs survive on small pockets of isolated spaces, by connecting these sites together it gives them a chance to move and adapt to change. To find out more about our work to link up nature-rich spaces, click here.
Hedgehog Heroes of Shropshire - In 2019 we employed our first Trainee Hedgehog Officer through our project (Growing Confidence) aimed at specifically engaging 11 -25's with the environment. Kathryn is raising awareness of our Shropshire hedgehogs and delivering projects to make our spaces more hedgehog-friendly and encouraging local communities to improve their own gardens. To find out more, click here.
How do you know if you have a hedgehog? 🦔
Although nocturnal and often missed, hedgehogs leave signs of their presence:
Droppings are often dark, little finger sized and shine with insect remnants.
Searching for hedgehog footprints is a good way of discovering if they are around. Both the front and back feet have five toes, though often only four toes show up on the tracks. Look for tracks in soft mud, or you could build a footprint tunnel - Make a plastic triangle (with a plastic floor), place some paper either end of the tunnel, with food flanked by ink in the middle (please use non toxic ink).
Setting up a camera trap is a brilliant way of discovering what animals are in your garden and observing their behaviour without disturbing them.
Our expert Stuart has some great tips to help you position your cameras to capture a range of garden species. Click here to read more.
How can you help hedgehogs? 🦔
Gardens, hedgerows, woodlands, grasslands, parks, and cemeteries are all important hedgehog habitats, and adult hedgehogs travel between 2-3km per night over home ranges between 10-20 hectares in size searching for food and mates – that’s entire housing estates and neighbourhoods!