The British Hedgehog

The British Hedgehog

jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG  30th April 2018      2018

THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY

The UK’s population of hedgehogs is in a serious decline. It has been reported that urban populations have fallen by up to 30% and rural populations by at least 50% since 2000. That’s a huge decline, in a very short space of time.

In order to try and battle this decline and raise awareness for hedgehogs, Hedgehog Awareness Week was created and this year runs from Sunday 6th – Saturday 12th May 2018. Events are being organised up and down the country, aiming to highlight the problems hedgehogs are facing and the ways in which every garden owner can try to help.

See  The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) at   https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/

We are giving you a weeks warning to get ready for the week.

Ways to help:

Food – The best things to offer are hedgehog foods specifically designed for them. The only drink that should be offered is water. Hedgehogs are actually lactose intolerant so please don’t put milk out for them.

Garden Maintenance – Please check bushes and lawns before you mow or strim them. Injuries to hogs can be horrific and in most cases they have to be put to sleep, if they aren’t killed instantly.

Daylight – Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals which means they shouldn’t usually be seen out in the daylight. An exception to this could be a pregnant female gathering nesting supplies or a new parent taking a much deserved break from the nest to get food and water. In both cases the Hog would be moving quickly.

If you spot a Hog out in the daylight which appears lethargic or wobbly, this is a clear sign that something isn’t right and you should report this to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society or your local animal sanctuary.

Movement – You can help hedgehogs move between your garden and the next by cutting or creating a small hole (5 inches) in your fence to allow them to move easily through and continue on their journey.

Fun Facts about Hedgehogs:

  • Hedgehogs roam over a large area, so you may have different ones visiting your garden every night.
  • Hedgehogs may travel one or two miles every night [if they can get through the fences].
  • Hedgehogs get a mention in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest.
  • Their spines don’t just protect against predators, they also act as shock absorbers, cushioning them if they fall.
  • When hedgehogs are born their spines are hidden under the skin, emerging shortly after birth.
  • It’s a myth that hedgehogs are learning to run rather than roll up in a ball when approached by a car.
  • Hedgehogs that survive their first year may go on to live to be 4, 5 or even older.

Founded in 1982 the British Hedgehog Preservation Society offers help and advice to those with sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs and maintains a list of rehabilitators in the UK. BHPS has 8 patrons Ann Widdecombe, Ben Fogle, Chris Beardshaw, CJ de Mooi, David Domoney, John Challis, Lorna Watson & Twiggy Lawson.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is a registered UK Charity (number 1164542) dedicated to helping & protecting hedgehogs native to the UK (Erinaceus europaeus).

Where are hedgehogs found? Hedgehogs are widespread and, in some areas, still common, but their numbers locally can vary a lot. They can be entirely absent in arable areas, but numerous in suburban habitats. Areas in and around towns and villages can be excellent habitats for hedgehogs, and hedgehogs often prefer them over farmland.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal and solitary creatures, so counting numbers in the field is difficult. Only two reliable estimates of the population size exist and both acknowledge a lot of uncertainty in the figures. In 1995  and more recently in 2017. Researchers have suggested a figure of about 1.5 million hedgehogs across England, Scotland and Wales collectively.

Are numbers changing? In the early 1990s, Dr Pat Morris, at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), recruited volunteers to record hedgehog road casualties as a way of monitoring the population in the wider landscape. Ten years on, PTES relaunched the survey, part-funded by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and under the guidance of Dr Paul Bright, also at RHUL.

Hedgehogs’ unique appearance and proximity in gardens and suburban green spaces place them firmly in the public’s affections. They’re a wild mammal we can observe close-up and are a symbol of our natural heritage.

In 2015, The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs, by People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), outlined the findings of four surveys recording hedgehogs in urban and rural areas, and showed a worrying decline. This new report updates those findings and describes the current status of Britain’s hedgehogs a decade after they were made a priority species for conservation.

Why are hedgehogs scarcer in rural areas?

Intensification of agriculture – intensive farming methods can reduce the quantity and quality of hedgehog habitat. Studies are underway to identify the types of features in habitats that benefit, but two aspects are likely to impact on hedgehogs: Habitat loss and fragmentation – larger fields and  the loss of hedges and copses result in fewer  nesting sites and less protection for hedgehogs.

Prey availability – insect larvae and soil invertebrates such as earthworms and slugs make up a large part of hedgehogs’ diet but can be scarce in agricultural soils.  A recent study in Germany measured the weight of flying insects trapped at around sixty nature reserves and found a decline of more than 75% since 1989. If Britain has seen a similar loss, fewer insect larvae, such as caterpillars and beetle grubs, might have impacted on hedgehogs and other species.

Roadkill – rural roads often have higher speed limits and reduced lighting meaning drivers are less able to spot wildlife. Nationwide, it’s estimated that around 100,000 hedgehogs are killed annually, and it’s not known whether this level of mortality is sustainable.

Predation – in the UK, badgers are the main wild predator of hedgehogs, but foxes can also cause injuries and kill young animals. Badgers and hedgehogs, however, co-exist in many areas and a better understanding of the habitat features that support both is needed.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY

One day you’ll look back and realise that you worried too much about things that don’t really matter – Buddha’s Teaching

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…having hedgehogs see your garden as a hedgehog haven

GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY

Why did the picture have to go to prison?  It was framed.

LOVE IS…

Love is…cleaning up after him…again!

TRACK OF THE DAY

I Don’t Want A lover – Texas

Highest Chart Position: No.8 4th March 1989