Raising awareness about threat to hedgehog habitats

Raising awareness about threat to hedgehog habitats

We appear to have lost around 30% of the population since 2002. Source:

FLEWG ( Freshford & Limpley Stoke Environmental Working Group ) ran a Hedgehog Awareness Week in May …. Hedgehog Day kept recurring throughout the week! but sadly hedgehogs will not recur unless we all do something about it.

As part of this awareness week, through links with Tom Harper, we were delighted that Dr Ben Williams of Reading University gave his time to visit the school and talk to Ashe and Mill Class about his hedgehog study relating to gardens.

Hedgehogs often need to roam from 1-2 km each night looking for food (worms, beetles, slugs, and caterpillars) and mates. During autumn they relentlessly forage for the food they need as fat for hibernation in cold months when their staple diet is scarce. ACCESS WAYS FOR HEDGEHOGS TO ROAM ARE THEREFORE CRITICAL. ( CD size 120mm diameter holes required in fences, walls or under gates).

Ben has made a survey of over 200 gardens in Reading. Provisional results showed that 33% of the gardens get hedgehogs at some time, chances improved to 40% with a compost heap or rotting wood for worms and beetles. Good hedgehog access including ramps to raised planters increase chances to 45%.

Dangers include: strimming where hedgehogs lie up in long grass during the day, ponds and swimming pools need steps or a strip of wire mesh netting, plastic fruit netting ensnares their feet so keep it a little off the ground. Use a beer trap and NEVER slug pellets. Avoid chemicals if possible. Hedgehogs will help you clear slugs! Do not approach young hedgehogs. Mothers could eat them as a survival tactic to go breed in a safer area.

Meanwhile Freshford Pre-school coloured hedgehog face masks and pretended to be hedgehogs. Why not likewise crawl around your garden to assess if you have good hedgehog access?

The Brownie pack looked at a selection of hibernation boxes for Hedgehogs, bats and dormice these being the only 3 British mammals which hibernate. (Search on line for hibernation boxes you can buy or build and also simple autumn feeding stations.) They also studied information from to conduct interviews between finger puppet animals they had made themselves. Prickly questions were acted out e.g. “Why do you curl up in a prickly ball?”. Politicians might have appreciated that option when recently questioned on their manifesto arithmetic.

Habitat loss is a very big threat. The change from pastoral farming to arable crops, and increasing field size with the removal of hedgerows, plus the use of chemicals for intensive farming, kills the creatures hedgehogs need for food and may also poison them directly. Many are also killed on the roads. Please then ensure hedgehogs have good access ways on your plot. Our gardens might well be the best shot hedgehogs now have for survival!

Thank you to FLEWG for making this possible.

Posted on 5th June, 2017

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