The country’s favourite animal

In the 1950s there were 30 million hedgehogs in this country, now , only 50 years later , there are less than 1 million ! They were an everyday occurrence then but now it is very unusual to see them in the wild. As we continue to claim all the land for building homes , offices and industrial estates so we are pushing these lovely little creatures to the edge of existence.The sad thing is all of our wildlife is under threat and we need to do something now !

It is estimated that an adult hedgehog will need 3-5 gardens to keep it well fed and protected . So , as the front gardens are being dug up and concreted over for car parking they have to look at back gardens to survive . What can YOU do ? One of the most important things is to cut a hole in your fence as this will allow the hogs to travel between different gardens . Become a hedgehog ambassador and encourage your neighbors to do the same .

* Try to avoid using chemicals such as slug pellets . These and many other garden pesticides are deadly to hedgehogs and many other animals ( including dogs and cats ! ).There are many natural slug detterants available on line

* Be aware that netting both plant and sports , can trap a hog and cause it to starve to death or become easy prey for predators . Make sure you check any netting frequently.

* Bonfires . These are just piles of wood to a hedgehog and would make a “des res” and they often move in to shelter there . Check thoroughly before you light a fire . Light the fire from one side only allowing an escape route . If possible , dismantle the fire and rebuild it so that you can check the whole structure .

* Check carefully before strimming or cutting grass . Many nursing mothers are injured in this way every year

* Fit drain covers to prevent hedgehogs from falling in

* If you have pond make sure you put bricks or make a ladder to allow hogs to climb out . They are good swimmers but may struggle to climb out of a pond . Place the escape in a couple of different points along the edge of the pond so the animal can come across it easily

The usual hibernation period is November to March . Provide a pile of twigs , branches and vegitation or logs , if you have them . Place in a quiet corner of the garden or you can buy a purpose built “hog house” from many places on line . Leave food and water for the hedgehogs to supplement their natural diet . REMEMBER DO NOT OFFER BREAD AND MILK AS THIS COULD KILL YOUR HEDGEHOG .

Meaty cat food or dry cat biscuits are ideal . You can buy special hog food on line as well