Sparrow and Finch Gardening The hedgehog from disappearing forever from British gardens

The hedgehog from disappearing forever from British gardens

No doubt sentimental memories of Beatrix’s The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle played a part in the public’s opinion when the humble hedgehog won “Britain’s national species” in a BBC Wildlife Magazine survey and “Britain’s favourite mammal” in a Royal Society of Biology survey.

Hugh Warwick, an author and ecologist, explains.

Beatrix Potter was able to transform the hedgehog into an irresistible garden companion.

Hedgehogs have become rare in British gardens, and they are disappearing at the rate of tigers everywhere. The number of rural hedgehogs has halved since 2000. Urban hedgehogs are down by one-third. The UK’s hedgehog population has dropped from 30 million in the 1950s to less than a hundred thousand today.

What’s the problem? We’re to blame. To be more precise, it’s the changing tastes and lifestyles of people. In recent years, farming methods have become more intensive. The removal of hedges has been a major problem for British hedgehogs. This has had negative effects on the main diet, which consists of worms. Beetles. Slugs. Caterpillars. Earwigs. And millipedes.

Badgers also eat hedgehogs and compete for their food. In England and Wales, the estimated population has increased from 250,000 to 485,000. Various studies show that the presence of a badger may have an adverse impact on the density of hedgehogs.

The first national field survey of hedgehogs was conducted in 2018.

Hedgehog occupancy is low (22%) and negatively related to badger densities. It’s positively related to built environments. Hedgehogs are also absent in 71% of sites where there were no badger sets, which indicates that hedgehogs do not inhabit large parts of the rural landscape.

The study’s authors concluded that “future research must…focus on the exact biological mechanisms by which badgers negatively affect hedgehogs and how they can be managed to promote coexistence of these two species”.

The roads in the country are also more crowded. Hedgehog Road Deaths in Britain are estimated at more than 100,000 per year. Our gardens are becoming increasingly humanized, and road networks cut through habitats, leaving hedgehogs isolated. The lawns were turned into tarmac, the foliage was removed, decking was added, the garden borders were slug-powdered, and the hedges were replaced with walls and fences. Hedgehogs not only lose their habitat but their chances of surviving.

Hedgehog-friendly gardens

In 2011, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species created Hedgehog Street to encourage people in their efforts to protect the species and habitat.

Hedgehog feeding station. British Hedgehog Preservation Society Facebook

In 2014, designer Tracy Foster created Hedgehog Street to show “how neighbours could work together to provide routes through garden borders to help hedgehogs.” The hedgehog haven, which shared slogans like “no garden is enough” or “make a gap, make a change,” won the People’s Choice Award for Best Small Garden as well as the RHS Gold Medal. In April 2017, the first permanent Hedgehog Street Garden at RHS Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire was revealed.

Hedgehog highways. Hedgehog Street/

It doesn’t require much to make your garden a safe haven for hedgehogs. All of these things help. Log piles and compost heaps are great. The same goes for ponds with a gentle slope, feeding stations and hedgehog houses.

As “no garden can provide everything that they need, “”holes for Hogs” should be a community event. Think of your garden like a highway for hedgehogs. Create 13cm-wide square holes on walls and fences to allow them safe passage. You can make these changes immediately, but you should be careful to not disturb the hidden hedgehogs as they are hibernating until spring.

You can save the lives of hedgehogs by taking a variety of small steps. By checking compost piles before you dig with a shovel, and by checking the long grass before you use strimmers or lawn mowers, you can prevent horrific injuries. By moving piles of trash to another location before burning, and by checking bonfires prior to lighting them, you can prevent the deaths caused by fire.

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