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Where have all the hedgehogs gone? ~ by Chris

Where have all the hedgehogs gone?

The number of hedgehogs has declined in recent years. This is evidenced by surveys like that of the Mammals Trust UK, which has undertaken road surveys since 2001. Figures suggest that the hedgehog population has fallen significantly in the last few years, in some areas of the East and South East the fall in numbers has been particularly dramatic (see http://www.mtuk.org/content/press/2002-09-05-hogsurveyresults.pdf).

The hedgehog is our only spiny mammal; it is covered in brown, sharp spines and can roll up into a ball so as to protect itself from predators, such as foxes and badgers. Hedgehogs feed mainly at night (especially after rain) on worms, beetles, slugs, snails and caterpillars. The use of insecticides and slug pellets in suburban gardens may have contributed to the fall in hedgehog numbers. The use of these substances means that there is less food available for hedgehogs. It is important that they feed well before winter in order to build up their body fat to enable them to hibernate through the cold winter period.

The installation of decking and the general tidying up of gardens means that gardens now offer a less favourable habitat for hedgehogs. The natural habitat of hedgehogs is hedgerows and the edges of woodlands, where they nest. If you want to encourage hedgehogs then don’t be too tidy in the garden; leave a rough shrubby area where there are plenty of leaves and twigs for them to use in making a nest.

The decline in hedgehog numbers in rural areas is not understood though a significant number are killed on the roads; climate change may also be a factor in that it may lead to warmer spells during the winter and hence increase the number of times they awake from hibernation (when there is little or nothing for them to eat). For more information on hedgehogs, the links below offer some starting points.

Posted in: Flora & Fauna ~ On: 16 May, 2006

5 comments so far

Gardens, wildlife and our cities | Woodlands.co.uk
9 August, 2012

[…] wildlife havens in towns and cities, we can help many animal species – such as sparrows, hedgehogs, thrushes, bumblebees and stag beetles. You can also help in the London Wildlife Trust’s […]

Paul
23 June, 2009

Having created a garden that is wildlife friendly and especially for hedgehogs in 2006 i had 3 mothers with a total of 10 baby hoglets around my garden.
In 2007 i had 2 mothers and 7 baby hoglets.
In 2008 none but i did see a large male and my neighbour had one mother and 3 hoglets.
I have just come in from my garden at 4 am and there are none to be seen anywhere. My garage opens onto a long unmade alley with over 50 gardens backing onto it and there are no hedgehogs to be seen or heard snuffling anywhere.

I am wondering if the urban Foxes which have increased in numbers over the same period are the cause for the decline in hedgehog numbers. I have linked to a few photos from 2004 in the website box showing just how healthy and quick growing the hoglets have been even with the number of young i have had the food is plentiful for them around my gardens.

Dan
7 January, 2008

Hedgehog numbers in many rural areas have been decimated by the mass use of slug pellets by farmers. This has now become very common practice. The use of slug pellets has resulted in the hedgehog becoming an endangered species in many areas, clearly demonstrated by the lack of ‘flat’ hedgehogs on the roads. This was once a very common sight, but now a rare one indeed.

Chris
7 September, 2007

Monday 3rd September 2007
An article on the BBC website – Hogs ‘no longer welcome in suburbia’
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6975945.stm

Gardens, wildlife and our cities | The Woodlands.co.uk Blog
17 July, 2007

[…] wildlife havens in towns and cities, we can help many animal species – such as sparrows, hedgehogs, thrushes, bumblebees and stag beetles. You can also help in the London Wildlife Trust’s […]

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