Behind dogs and cats, hedgehogs might just be the nation’s favourite animal. One need only look at the fact there are currently over 2 million hedgehog videos on YouTube to see that people can’t get enough of these little spiky wonders. That’s why we’ve put together some little known facts to help you brush up on your knowledge and keep you clued up with your hog-obsessed friends.

A group of hedgehogs is called an array

You won’t have much chance to see an array for yourself though; hedgehogs are solitary creatures, and usually only come together to mate.

Hedgehogs rely on their hearing and sense of smell

Due to their poor eyesight, hedgehogs depend on their hearing and sense of smell during the daytime when they’re out and about. Because of their nocturnal lifestyle, a hedgehog’s eyesight works better in the dark.

Hedgehogs are illegal as pets in certain American states

Because they qualify as wild animals in some areas, many US states and cities ban people from keeping hedgehogs domestically. This includes New York, Washington, California, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. While they are allowed to be kept as pets in some areas, you need a permit to own a hedgehog. And though it is legal to keep a hedgehog as a pet in the UK, it is generally frowned upon due to their natural inclination toward living in the wild and their survival needs.

Where the name “hedgehog” comes from…

The “hedge” part of the name comes from their preferred habitat of garden hedges. The hog part comes from the pig-like noises they make.

…And what happened to their old name

Before they had their adorable name of today, our spiky friends were referred to as urchins during the Middle Ages. Once they gained their new name, their old one was then used for sea urchins. However, baby hedgehogs, or “hoglets”, are still sometimes referred to as urchins.

Hedgehogs used to be the focus of Groundhog Day

The yearly tradition originally began in Germany and was brought to America by settlers. But because hedgehogs aren’t indigenous to America and hadn’t been introduced to the ecosystem yet, they had to go for the next best thing for their weather predictions, which was a groundhog.

The idea hedgehogs gather food with their spikes is a myth

This idea started when medieval bestiaries and texts began showing hedgehogs gathering food with their spikes, and the image has stuck ever since. However, this is inaccurate, as they usually eat food that they come across as soon as they find it to help build up their weight.

The earliest known hedgehog lived around 58 million years ago

The Litoestes, the ancestor of the modern-day hedgehog, lived during the Palaeocene period and is the earliest member of the hedgehog family discovered so far. The smallest hedgehog in history, the Silvacola Acares, arrived sometime after, as it lived in northern British Columbia 52 million years ago. It was about 2 inches long.

They have an odd practice

When hedgehogs come across toxic substances like poisonous plants, they enact a routine called “anointing”, where they lick the substance until they form frothy saliva, which they then rub on their skin and spines. No one’s exactly sure why they do this; one possibility is that they make themselves taste less palatable to predators, while another is that it works as a kind of olfactory camouflage.

People used to think hedgehogs were witches in disguise

Because people used to see hedgehogs as harbingers of doom in the Middle Ages, this then led to people believing they were witches in disguise during the witch-hunting days. It also led to Shakespeare referencing them in his plays, usually as an insult. You can find the use of hedgehogs in his plays Richard III, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.

Bonfire Night may be a fun night for us, but it is one of the biggest risks of the year for hedgehogs. As hedgehogs continue to search for the most secure and safe place for them to hibernate through the winter, they may come across a bonfire and think this is a safe hibernation spot. That’s why we’ve put together a few steps for you to take to help keep your local hogs safe on Bonfire Night.

 

Build your bonfire as close to the celebration as possible

Even though it may be more convenient for you to build your bonfire earlier in the day or even the day before, this will give hedgehogs more time to find their way into the pile of wood and make themselves comfortable. It also means there is more of a risk of more than one hedgehog finding their way into the bonfire. That’s why it’s much safer for you to build your bonfire as close to the start of the evening’s celebrations as possible, giving your local hedgehogs less time to get in the pile.

 

Regularly check your bonfire

As hedgehogs will be looking for the safest, most secure spots possible for hibernation, they will be burrowing themselves into your bonfire as much as possible. That’s why it’s important that you regularly check your bonfire for any hedgehogs who may have gotten in. As hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, make sure to check the pile by gently lifting pieces of the wood section by section, making sure not to disturb the hedgehogs too much. You should use a blunt object like a pole to lift the pieces of wood, as using something sharper or harder like a spade or fork could accidentally harm the hedgehog.

If you do find a hedgehog, place it in a high-sided cardboard box with plenty of towelling. Make sure there are air holes in the box before securely placing the lid on the box, as hedgehogs are gifted climbers. Put the box in a safe place away from the bonfire. Once the celebrations are over and the bonfire is completely dampened, you can release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs far away from the remains of the bonfire.

 

Put up chicken wire around the bonfire

No matter how careful and vigilant you are, there’s always a chance of a hedgehog slipping past your notice and getting into your bonfire. That’s why it’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure they can’t get to the pile. You can do this by putting chicken wire around the bonfire to keep hedgehogs out. The wire should be held in place with stakes, with the wire sloping outward at an angle to prevent hedgehogs climbing the wire.

 

Remove all litter and firework debris

It’s a guarantee that there will be a lot of mess after the celebrations are over. With people gathering around to watch the bonfire, there will be litter gathering around the area that could be harmful to not only hedgehogs, but all local wildlife if not properly disposed of. There will also be a lot of firework debris on the nearby grounds that can be harmful too. That’s why it is essential that you properly dispose of litter around the area as soon as the celebrations have finished.

Though they’re just as cute as their elders, hoglets need more care and attention than adult hedgehogs. As they’ve just arrived into the world and haven’t learned the survival instincts they need to last in the wild, hoglets need to be cared for by the mothers until they are ready to go out on their own. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you understand what you should and shouldn’t do if you come across a baby hoglet.

 

Step 1: Do not disturb a hedgehog’s nest

If the mother is disturbed soon after birth, she may desert her hoglets. So if you find a nest in your garden, you mustn’t touch or interfere with it. Any slight disturbance to the nest or the hoglets themselves can cause the mother to abandon them, leaving the hoglets alone without the care they need.

Step 2: Listen out for hoglet cries

If a hoglet has been left or abandoned by their mother, they will most likely stay in or near the nest, as it’s an area that’s most familiar to them. Nests can often be found under sheds or in hedgerows, log or leaf piles and compost heaps. If they are distressed, they will let out a shrill, bird-like piping. If you hear anything like this, search for the hoglet and then search for any other hoglets that may be nearby.

Step 3: Provide warmth to abandoned hoglets

Abandoned hoglets are very vulnerable creatures, and are often found in a poor state. Without their mother providing food for them, they won’t be able to build up their body weight and will need a source of warmth. That’s why if you find an abandoned hoglet, you will need to keep it in a warm room. It should be placed in a small cardboard box or a similar container, lined with a towel. Place a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel in the bottom of the box. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, as it could be uncomfortable for the hoglet to have too much heat. Place the hoglet on top of the wrapped bottle and cover with further bedding. You will need to change the water bottle every few hours to ensure the hoglet has a regular supply of warmth.

Step 4: Take abandoned hoglets to a local hedgehog hospital

Now that the hoglet is out of the cold and in a safe and warm environment, they will need support and nutrition to survive. But without the mother to provide this, they won’t survive out in the wild on their own, and with daily life in the way, you won’t have the time to give the hoglet the proper care and attention it needs. That’s why the next step for you is to take the hoglet to a local hedgehog hospital. There, the baby will be given the daily care and support it needs to grow strong.

Introducing the NEW & improved Spike’s Meaty Feast 140g

At Spike’s, we’re always looking for ways to improve the health and well-being of our wild UK hedgehogs. With this in mind, we decided it was time to improve our Meaty Feast recipe in order to provide even more nutritional benefit to our prickly friends. We’re now delighted to announce the launch of our brand new, delicious Spike’s Meaty Feast recipe!

Now with 40% fresh chicken and 30% fresh pork, the new and improved Spike’s Meaty Feast comes in a 140g retort tray with cardboard sleeve. This is a great improvement from the original 100g Meaty Feast format and we are sure that your local hoggies will love it!

Spike’s delicious Meaty Feast is packed with fresh meat, making it a delicious complement to our spiky friends’ natural diet. The product also contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and is made with 100% natural ingredients.

Fed regularly, it will encourage hedgehogs to visit your garden all year round! You can feed alongside other Spike’s Foods including Spike’s Semi-Moist Food and Spike’s Crunchy Dry Food. Always make sure that fresh water is available alongside Spike’s Hedgehog Foods.

Help our hedgehogs!

In recognition of Hedgehog Awareness Week (5th – 12th May), Spike’s Hedgehog Food and Amazing Grace provides some valuable tips on how to look after our favourite garden visitors.
Small, round, brown and prickly, hedgehogs are one of Britain’s most beloved wild animals, but sadly their numbers are rapidly declining.

Reduction in hedgerows and intensive farming have led to the sharp decline, which means hedgehogs are disappearing from our countryside as fast as tigers are worldwide!
A third of the hedgehog population has been lost since the millennium with rough estimates putting the total in England, Wales and Scotland under (around) one million – compared with around 30 million in the 1960s.

The cause of their decline is mainly due to humans and changes in the way we live our lives (complicated, with so many factors at play) but fortunately there are a number of ways we can get involved in our own back gardens to help protect our spiky friends.

Hedgehogs and hibernation

Hedgehogs usually hibernate between November and March, but in order to do this they must have enough fat reserves in advance to survive hibernation as they will lose around 1/3 of their body weight during this time. Hibernation patterns are however, becoming less common, with hedgehogs often waking up from their state of torpor to refuel during the winter months.
With the impending arrival of warmer weather, hedgehogs will start to come out of hibernation looking for food – usually around mid-March. It is at this time that they will begin feeding themselves up, in preparation to start a family.

Anne Brummer, CEO of animal welfare charity the Save Me Trust and founder of the Amazing Grace project, aimed at fighting the declining population of hedgehogs in the UK, comments: “We have five simple recommendations that everyone can do in their own gardens that will go a long way in helping protect our hedgehogs.”

What you can do to help

Number one: Access and Egress – get hedgehogs in and out of your garden

Link the gardens in your neighbourhood with Hedgehog Highways. Ensuring that hedgehogs can pass freely through your garden is the most important thing you can do to help them, as often our garden fences and walls restrict the amount of roaming space available to them. We can create the biggest nature reserve in the UK if we all link our gardens together.

Number two: Slugs and Bugs

Leave part of your garden to grow wild; hedges with natural undergrowth, plant nectar rich wild flowers and create log piles to encourage wildlife into your garden and provide an abundant food source, attracting insects and grubs. Leave out suitable food, such as specialist hedgehog food, or chicken-based cat food, and water all year round.

Number Three: Nesting and Resting

Provide a house or a log pile that is safe place for a resting hedgehog. Gaps under your sheds or a compost heap will fit the bill.

Number Four: Drink or Drown

Hedgehog need water. Please put out a shallow dish daily. Ponds are great but make sure swimming pools and garden ponds have a graduated side or chicken wire overhanging so that hedgehogs can scramble out.

Number Five: Do or Die

Check your space for hedgehog hazards. Make sure drains are covered so hedge-hogs can’t fall in and make sure netting is eight inches above the ground, so hedgehogs don’t get caught.

If you find a poorly or injured hedgehog contact your nearest hedgehog or wildlife rescue, who will be able to advise or arrange care for the hedgehog. Remove them from immediate danger and keep them warm by placing them in a box with an old towel and putting a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end.

From 1st April 2019, 10p from every bag of Spike’s Hedgehog Food sold will be donated to the Amazing Grace campaign.

Specially developed for hedgehogs, Spike’s Crunchy Dry, Semi-Moist and Meaty Feast are all ideal foods for your garden’s visitors, although some chicken-based cat foods can also be suitable. Hedgehogs also like banana and dried fruits such as cranberry and apple, but these should be fed in moderation.

Camille Ashforth, Spike’s Hedgehog Food brand manager, comments: “Food should be left out each evening at dusk in a shallow dish and water should always be left out, especially during long, hot spells.

“When food is left out regularly it is likely a hedgehog will loyally return at the same time each night and will noisily remind you if you are late with his dinner.
“Taking just a few of the steps mentioned above can go a long way in helping the hedgehog community in their plea for survival, our spiky friends need us!”

Spike’s Hedgehog Food announces partnership with Dr Brian May’s Save Me Trust campaign, Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, a collaboration between the Save Me Trust, Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, is fighting the declining population of hedgehogs in the UK, and, as of 1st April 2019, 10p from every bag of Spike’s food sold will be donated to the campaign.

Through the partnership, each donation will support Amazing Grace spread the message and help educate the public about the decline in population of hedgehogs in the UK, which has dropped from 30 million in the 1950s, to fewer than one million today.

Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust, commented on the partnership: “Everything we do at the Save Me Trust is to support wildlife. We battle daily against cruelty, injustice, lack of habitat and persecution on every level. Many issues relating to wildlife are caused by man’s ignorance so awareness is key to any project. The Amazing Grace campaign is one of these battles.
“The UK’s hedgehog population is declining at an alarming rate and we’re passionately dedicated to doing everything we can to help the humble hog to survive and flourish.

“We treat hedgehogs here on the front line from hand rearing tiny hoglets like Grace to fixing broken limbs. That’s the easy part and it’s what we have been doing for 30 years, but after all our work with rehabilitation if they have no safe space to return to, our efforts would be futile.

“Their habitat has decreased massively over the last 30 years and the decline in hedgehogs has mirrored that. The Amazing Grace campaign tackles these issues on every level from educating the public, to carrying out scientific studies.

“We want to make gardens and outdoor spaces hedgehog-friendly throughout the UK. It’s not too late and it’s within our gift to change the fate of Britain’s favourite mammal if we all pull together.

“We are very excited to be working with the wonderful people from Spike’s; any support we receive is a step in the right direction and this partnership with Spikes’ will play a vital role in our mission to increase the hedgehog population.”

Dr Brian May added: “We welcome Spike’s generous boost to the campaign to save these precious native animals from extinction. Everybody loves the small hogs, who are part of our heritage and we’d like to see the whole of Britain get behind this campaign.” Camille Ashforth, Spike’s World brand manager, concluded: “Everything the team at Amazing Grace does is so important. They’re not only helping and rehabilitating a declining population of hedgehogs, but also raising awareness of how we, as the general public, can help by making our gardens hedgehog friendly – something we’re really proud to stand behind.”