This week I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to hear retired zoology lecturer Dr Pat Morris talk about one of wildlife’s most popular creatures: the humble hedgehog. Although I was already aware of how at risk their populations are in Britain (according to research their numbers are declining by 5 per cent every year and there are now fewer than one million left), I had never fully appreciated just how easy it is to protect them – regardless of whether you live in the countryside or a more built-up area.
How you can help:
1. Leave piles of leaves and branches in your garden for hedgehogs to build nests from, or install a ready-made hedgehog box, if you prefer. Before lighting bonfires, or strimming hedgerows and borders, check that no wildlife is resting within – the RSPCA says such injuries are worryingly on the rise.
2. Place out bowls of water to drink plus dog food, mixed with crushed dog biscuits or small pieces of bread, and watered down to a sloppy consistency.
3. If you have a water feature, provide an escape route such as a pile of rocks or a piece of chicken wire that hedgehogs can use to pull themselves up on. Many modern houses have solid fencing, which may keep pets in, but it also keeps certain types of wildlife out. Provide an entry point for hedgehogs in the form of a tunnel (making a small hole at the base of your fence and putting a similarly-sized cored brick against it will ensure that foxes can’t get through).
You can also sign up to become a Hedgehog Champion as part of Hedgehog Street, a joint initiative by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society and The People’s Trust for Endangered Species to create more hedgehog-friendly habitats throughout Britain.