Weight: up to 2kg
Average lifespan: 2-3 years
When to seeApril to October
AboutRound, brown and famously covered in spines, the European hedgehog (often just referred to as 'hedgehog') is one of the UK's most familiar wild mammals. It is most commonly spotted in parks and gardens, where bushes and hedges provide the perfect daytime getaway, and insect-rich lawns and flowerbeds make excellent feeding grounds at dusk.
Hedgehogs eat all kinds of invertebrates, as well as amphibians, birds' eggs and anything else they can catch; they particularly like big, crunchy beetles, earthworms and slugs, making them a gardener's best friend. Hedgehogs hibernate over winter, from about November to April, in a nest of leaves or logs called a 'hibernaculum'.
How to identifyA unique and unmistakeable animal, the hedgehog is small, brown and round, with yellow-tipped spines over its back, and a fur-covered face. Mostly nocturnal, you may see or hear one snuffling around the garden. Or look out for the signs of hedgehogs, such as medium-sized, black droppings full of insect bits on the lawn.
In our area
Hedgehogs were once common across Shropshire, but the population has declined by over 75% over the last 50 years. Their decline is attributed to a number of factors, including changing agricultural practice, use of lethal slug pellets and climate change. Hedgehogs can forage for food over a large distance and are often killed as they cross roads at night. because they move around so much, man-made barriers, such as concrete-based garden fences can greatly impact a hog's ability to travel in search of food and could be another factor in their decline in some areas.
The most likely places to see hedgehogs are now in parks and gardens rather than open countryside. We can all do our bit to help hedgehogs in our local area, including our gardens. Click on the links below to find out how you can help.