Hedgehog sightings needed

Tuesday 15th September 2015

Hedgehog (c) Gillian DayHedgehog (c) Gillian Day

Worcestershire’s hedgehogs are in trouble and need the help of residents from across the county.

The UK has lost 30% of hedgehogs in the last ten years alone and it is feared that numbers of Worcestershire’s prickly mammals reflect this loss. Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is calling on the county’s residents to report sightings of hedgehogs in order to help assess where they are and in what numbers.

Wendy Carter, the Trust’s Communications Manager, explained “There was a time when most people could tell you they’d heard hedgehogs snuffling in their gardens at night. Nowadays, most people will tell you that they haven’t seen or heard a hedgehog for years.

“It’s thought that, as a nation, we’ve lost more than 30million hedgehogs since the 1950s; that’s an astonishing loss and reflects our changing society.

“But there are things we can all do to help hedgehogs and, in turn, help other wildlife that shares our urban and rural landscapes.”

Connecting gardens

Hedgehog (c) Tom MarshallHedgehogs can travel over 1km every night to find food. Development and changes in land-use has resulted not only in direct loss of habitat but has also created isolated populations that are unable to travel between suitable habitats that are scattered through the landscape.

The Trust has launched a simple form on their website for people to submit details of hedgehog sightings. The form also offers the opportunity to submit negative records if a hedgehog hasn’t been seen for several years.

As well as asking for sightings of hedgehogs, the Trust’s website also offers advice on how to help them – from making space for hedgehogs in gardens to working with neighbours to provide connectivity for hedgehogs between gardens.

Wendy added “We’ve tidied up our gardens, developed our land and we now zip around in fast cars along wide roads. This has all been bad news for our hedgehogs.

“But if we all did just one thing to help, it would make the world of difference for these spiny creatures. Hedgehogs love nothing more than munching on snails and slugs so should be welcomed by most gardeners – and it only takes a bit of thought to make a garden really good for them.

“Growing plants that attract insects, the main food of hedgehogs, is a good start but leaving patches of garden a little wild or installing a hedgehog home in a quiet corner would be even better.

“Chatting to neighbours is essential – one suitable garden is a start but we need hedgehog highways if we’re to see numbers bounce back. So how about agreeing with a neighbour to leave a hole or two in or under the fencing between gardens?

“It won’t be long before hedgehogs start to hibernate through the winter so if you’re doing any work in the garden – whether it be lighting a bonfire or strimming – don’t forget to check for sleeping or hibernating hedgehogs first.”

Rescue & recording

Bread and milk should never be left out for hedgehogs – dog or cat meat and water are best if readers want to attract hedgehogs to their gardens.

Hedgehogs that are out in the day are likely to be ill and in need of help; likewise with small hedgehogs that are seen at night-time as autumn wears on. Worcestershire Wildlife Trust has contact details for the county’s three rescue centres on their website.

To submit hedgehog sightings or for more advice on how to help hedgehogs, visit www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/hedgehogs.