Help our Hedgehogs

March 21, 2022

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You may have been lucky enough to spot a hedgehog out and about in your street or garden at night, but sadly, numbers of these sweet little mammals have been in decline for the past few decades.

This is due to various factors including habitat loss and an increase in traffic. Urban hedgehogs can be particularly at risk as they can travel a long distance in the course of a night (2-3 km is not unusual) and in built up areas moving between gardens and finding safe places to feed and sleep can be challenging.

The good news is that there are early signs that population numbers may be starting to stabilise, due in part to the organisations and individuals that help British wildlife through education and care. If you would like to help hedgehogs in your local area there are lots of ways you can make their lives easier …

Hedgehog highways.

Leaving a small gap in the bottom of fences can make it easier to hedgehogs to move between gardens and find food and shelter.

If this is done at a street or community level even better. Why not co-ordinate a hedgehog highway scheme in your neighbourhood?

More info on creating hedgehog highways can be found here

Hedgehog habitats.

Hedgehogs like to hide, sleep and hibernate in the wilder, more overgrown areas of the garden, such as a compost heaps, piles of garden waste or leaves and log piles. They can struggle in super tidy gardens. Try to leave some wilder and messier spaces in your garden if possible to accommodate our spiky friends. An out of sight area behind a shed or similar will do just fine!

Food and water.

Hedgehogs are omnivores. Their natural diet consists of creepy crawlies such as as beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, slugs and spiders but they will also eat eggs, frogs and fallen fruit. Again, in really tidy gardens food supplies can be scarce, especially if herbicides are in use to control insect populations. Making space for wildlife in your garden will help the hedgehogs find enough to eat, and they will pay you back by controlling pest populations in a sustainable, chemical free fashion.

In late winter and the autumn, when food supplies may be scarce, providing fresh water and good quality meaty cat or dog food or cat biscuits can really help hedgehogs. In late winter they may be emerging from hibernation and in the autumn they need to lay down energy reserves to get them through hibernation. Hedgehogs need to weigh at least 600 grams to survive their long winter sleep. Any less than this and they may not wake up again.

If you are feeling handy you can build a bespoke hedgehog feeding station in your garden … See below for further info.

Helping sick and injured hedgehogs

If you have found an unwell, underweight or injured hedgehog we are always happy to hear from you. We can sometimes treat hedgehogs here at the surgery. Often they just need some parasite treatment and extra food but sometimes they have more serious health problems such as injuries from traffic or lungworm infestations. On occasion, if it is the best interest of the animal, we have carried out hedgehog surgery here at the practice (Patrick is a keen wildlife enthusiast.) If a hedgehog is seriously injured euthanasia is still a better option than being left by the side of a busy road.

We often see hedgehogs who are too small to hibernate in the autumn. These animals often end up overwintering either at the hedgehog hospital in Shepreth (details below) or with a fantastic wildlife rehabilitator (also a client of the practice) who works tirelessly to help our local wildlife.

Generally, if hedgehogs are out and about during the day, or very small hedgehogs are still active late into the winter when the weather is getting really cold, they may need some help, so if you have any concerns or questions please do give us a call on (01223) 359021

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