We all love to see hedgehogs, but sadly, hedgehogs are at risk of disappearing from our towns and countryside forever. Since the 1950s, when there were an estimated 36 million hedgehogs in the UK, numbers have dropped down to just 1 million. One reason for this, is that there aren’t enough safe places where hedgehogs can make their homes, meet other hedgehogs and breed.
But it is not all bad news. Thanks to some fantastic projects like Hedgehog Street, people of all ages have been making their gardens hedgehog friendly and it is starting to pay off. Hedgehog numbers are slowly rising in areas which are on the edges of towns, just like Willingdon is.
Can we make Willingdon a hedgehog friendly village?
This would be very hard to do by ourselves, but if we work together, anything is possible. Hedgehogs love gardens, but to meet other hedgehogs, they need access to lots of gardens. Hedgehog Street has some great ideas for how we can make our gardens hedgehog friendly, which includes:
- add ramps to ponds so that hedgehogs can climb safely out
- remove dangerous litter
- create a wild corner to provide sources of food
- stop using chemicals in your garden
- check for hedgehogs before strimming, or mowing long grass
- be careful with bonfires
- make a hedgehog home
- put out food and water
- link your gardens with Hedgehog Highways!
I love this last idea, groups of neighbours making small (13cm) holes in fences so that hedgehogs can travel between gardens. For more information on these ideas, see Help hedgehogs in your neighbourhood. You can even buy a hedgehog highway label (made form green recycled plastic) for £3, or ask for a bundle of free leaflets to give out to your neighbours.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, so we don’t often see them in daylight. This makes it hard to count their numbers accurately, but one way to keep track of how hedgehogs are doing is through the Big Hedgehog Map. You can look to see how many have been reported in your area and, if you see one yourself, you can report it.
Hedgehog numbers are also measured by the number of road casualties spotted, but let’s not dwell on that!
If you’d like to help hedgehogs to survive, here is a summary of some things you can do:
- Make your garden hedgehog friendly – see Help hedgehogs in your neighbourhood.
- Talk to your neighbours about making a hedgehog highway – see Link your garden
- Become a Hedgehog Champion – there are now over 90,000 hedgehog champions in the UK
Share your hedgehog stories and pictures with us all
We’d love to see your drawings of hedgehogs, photos of hedgehog homes and hedgehog highways.
Tell us what you’re doing to help hedgehogs and let us know if you spot any.
If enough people in Willingdon take just a few steps to make their gardens hedgehog friendly we could start to see many more hedgehogs here before too long.