WILD HEDGEHOG AWARENESS & EDUCATION
We have collated some resources for you to use to help spread awareness. These might be useful if you want to know why the British Wild Hedgehogs need help. You might also like to view our download page for posters, flyers, reports, and guides on British Wild Hedgehogs.
WHY HAS THE HEDGEHOG POPULATION DECLINED SO MUCH SINCE THE YEAR 2000?
The Wild British Hedgehog has been included in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List for British Mammals. Their population has decreased by about 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas since the year 2000. It is estimated that 100k hedgehogs are killed each year on the roads. Their habitats have been diminishing and their inability to access and travel though gardens and across roads has become in most cases, impossible. Roads create invisible barriers and also physical barriers for hedgehogs. The use of poisons like slug pellets, and intensive agricultural farming also have a part to play in their decreased populations though the loss of hedges and pestisides.
ARE BADGERS TO BLAME FOR THE HEDGEHOGS DECLINE IN NUMBERS?
Badgers do eat hedgehogs, and the populations of hedgehogs in areas where badgers co-exist with hedgehogs is less. However, they are not the main reason for the hedgehogs decline in population. Both badgers and hedgehogs compete for the same food, invertebrates. They have co-existed together for thousands of years. Hedgehogs will avoid badgers when they come in contact with them and will avoid foraging in areas where badgers exist. But, the more dramatic fall in numbers of hedgehogs throughout the country is in areas where there are no badgers.
WHY DO HEDGEHOGS HAVE SO MANY FLEAS?
Fleas on hedgehogs can be a huge problem for them. However, a healthy hedgehog does not actually have that many fleas, if any fleas on them at all. Most of the hedgehogs that are spotted are at times during the day, and normally because the hedgehog has health issues. These hedgehogs are likely suffering from other parasites or with poor health, this attracts the fleas. Although the fleas may jump on to a human or a dog, they don't actually stay as the hedgehog fleas are specific to the hedgehog.
HOW MUCH SPACE DOES A HEDGEHOG NEED TO FORAGE FOR FOOD AND TO FIND A MATE?
Male hedgehogs generally move about more often than the females. They can travel 2km+ a night. A female hedgehog is more inclined to reuse their nests and stay in one nest for longer periods of time. A female hedgehog can travel 1km+ each night. There have been studies carried out by Nigel Reeve showing a hedgehog using 30 hectares of land.
WHAT DO HEDGEHOGS EAT?
They eat invertebrates in the wild. They forage for beetles, worms, slugs, snails, among other little grubs such as millipedes and caterpillars. They like eggs and larvae too.
They may also eat small mammals like frogs or birds, although rare and would be opportunistic coming across a dead corpse. They will eat fallen fruits but it's not really their preferred food of choice.
Any jelly based dog or cat food will be good if you want to help supplement the hedgehogs diet by putting out food for them. They will love that. But, it's better to feed them actual hedgehog food, of which there are many brands to choose from.
WHAT DON'T HEDGEHOGS EAT?
Never feed a hedgehog milk! This is a big no, no! They are lactose intolerant but they don't know that and would drink milk if left out for them. But, this can really harm hedgehogs and might also kill the young holglets.
You should avoid feeding any of the following directly to hedgehogs.
NO MILK (It will make them very ill)
NO Peanuts (whole peanuts can get stuck in their throats, they are also not good as a main food for hogs)
NO Raisins (just like dogs, this can make the hedgehog ill)
NO Raw Chicken (too much bacterial risk)
NO Raw Offal (too much bacterial risk)
NO Sunflower Hearts (they are not good nutritional value food for hogs)
NO Sultanas (just like dogs, this can make the hedgehog ill)
NO Mealworms (There has been a study showing them to cause a bones disease over time, but also not really any nutritional value for them).
WHEN DO I CLEAN OUT MY GARDEN HEDGEHOG HOUSE?
There are a few key months when you should not touch a hedgehog house if you have made one, or bought one for your garden hedgehogs. Never clean the hog house during Spring/Summer as that's when most of the baby hoglets are born and a good chance you might disturb a nesting family. Never clean during the late Autumn and Winter months as this is when hedgehogs are hibernating.
The best time of the year is around late September and you only need to really clean it once a year. Don't use any harsh chemicals when cleaning, but it's not a bad idea to use some Johnson's Veterinary Anti Mite etc..) which is Permethrin, then replenish the house with bedding such as dried hay or straw.
DO HEDGEHOGS COME OUT DURING THE DAY?
No they don't! They are nocturnal and sleep during the day while actively foraging for food at night. There is an exception to this however, mothers of baby hoglets will come out during the day to forage for food. These hedgehogs will have purpose in their stride scurrying from one side of your garden to the other or gathering up nesting material to form their new nest.
It is important to mention the photos you see of the hedgehogs on this website are taken while the hedgehogs are in rehabilitation and DO NOT reflect the natural habit of a wild hedgehog.
HOW CAN YOU HELP THE HEDGEHOGS RIGHT NOW?
The single biggest thing you can do to help the hedgehogs is to create a small 13cmx13cm hole at the base of your garden fence or wall. This will allow a hedgehog to travel though your garden.
Ask your adjoining neighbours to do the same thing.
Stop using slug pellets.
Ensure your ponds or pools have a ramp allowing hedgehogs to escape should they fall in. Even better create a wildlife friendly pond with rocky and sloped edges.
Check bonfires making sure there are no hedgehogs inside before lighting them. Ideally build it the same day as you burn it.
Provide supplementary food such as jelly based dog or cat food, or cat biscuits. Or even better hedgehog food! You can also make a hedgehog feeding station so other animals like cats, dogs, and rats (as they don't like being in a corner).
Try to pile up logs, leaves, grass cuttings.
Avoid leaving netting on the ground such as sports netting or garden netting as hedgehogs get trapped in this. Keep it at least one foot above the ground.
Be mindful of hedgehogs when strimming especially in long foliage as a hedgehog may be nesting there.
Cover up holes , open drain covers, or anything a hedgehog could fall in to and get trapped.
Avoid littering, especially rubber bands, cups, bags, and especially plastic can holders.
Avoid using squirrel traps or rat traps.