This year, The British Hedgehog Preservation Society is once again running Hedgehog Awareness Week (HAW) between the 6th-12th May. Designed to raise awareness of the plight of Britain’s hedgehogs, the week aims to educate people with regards to how they themselves can help out our spiny friends.
Hedgehogs have declined by up to 50% since the beginning of the century due to a mix of factors including but not limited to:
- The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers which both remove vital food sources for hedgehogs and may, in some cases, result in secondary poisoning of the animals themselves.
- Flailing, a common method of managing hedgerows which renders them unsuitable for nesting.
- Poor positioning of fencing and walls – solid boundaries such as these make it harder for hedgehogs to move between foraging sites.
- Habitat loss, including the loss of scrubby areas, marginal land and hedgerows
- Road-traffic collisions.
- Potentially, an increase in predation by badgers in areas where the ecosystem has fallen out sync.
What can we do to help this Hedgehog Awareness Week?
For those looking to play a more active role in Hedgehog Awareness Week, you can start making a real difference by making a few small alterations to your daily life:
- Take care when strimming, mowing the lawn or cutting hedges – you never know where a hedgehog could be resting up during the day.
- Make your garden “hedgehog friendly” by providing a small gap (13x13cm is advisable) in your fence or wall. A hole of this size is more than sufficient to permit hedgehogs access to your garden but will not compromise your security, or allow pets to escape.
- If you have a bonfire, or plan on burning garden refuse, check your materials carefully before lighting – such places are a real draw to hedgehogs seeking a place to hide or hibernate. It is advisable to move rubbish to a separate location if you plan on burning it, so to remove the risk of hedgehogs being trapped inside.
- Say no to slug pellets!
- Build a pond, let weeds grow, create a compost heap or dedicate a small space in your garden to nature – such things greatly increase the biodiversity of our gardens and encourage hedgehog prey items.
- Build a hedgehog home. It does not need to be fancy, and you do not need to splash out vast sums of money. Hedgehogs will readily utilise man-made structures when natural hibernation spots are in short supply. For tips, check out this blog courtesy of the RSPB.
As you can see, there are plenty of small changes you, yourself can make this Hedgehog Awareness Week to help out our cherished garden visitors. If we all play our part, and garden with hedgehogs in mind, there is no reason why the worrying trend observed in hog populations cannot be reversed. There are already indications that this could be happening in some urban areas but, as ever, there is much more to do.