9, June, 2019
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!”