How to help your local hedgehogs

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Everyone’s favourite garden mammal is struggling. Facing a plethora of threats, hedgehog numbers have greatly declined across East Anglia but there’s plenty you can do to help.

Hedgehogs need room to roam. They can travel up to two kilometres each night, and are surprisingly good at climbing and swimming. But where there were once hedges, there are now fences, meaning that it’s harder for a hog to trundle to the best slugs, nesting places and to shelter from curious cats and dogs.

As for roads… we all know hedgehogs don’t have a great safety record – around half a million are squashed on British roads every year. Throw in poisonous slug pellets, drains without covers and ponds to fall in and we can see just how tough life is for local hogs. And that’s before this season’s hazards – bonfires. A pile of sticks and leaves that you’re planning to set fire to looks just like a big nest to a hedgehog.

How can you help?

If your garden is fenced, cut or dig a small hole at the bottom to allow hedgehogs free passage.

Don’t be too tidy in your garden – leave some leafy nooks for hedgehogs to call home.

Make sure there’s a gentle slope in your pond to help hogs up and out.

Provide food and drink – they love cat or dog food and fresh water but milk makes them ill. Taper off feeding as autumn proceeds to encourage them to hibernate.

Build bonfires at the last possible minute before lighting them.

If you see a hedgehog during the daytime, it is either ill or very hungry. Try food and water, but if it still looks distressed as time goes on, call the Shepreth Wildlife Park (01763 26 22 26), Cambridgeshire’s hedgehog rescue centre.

Visit britishhedgehogs.org.uk to find out how you can be a hedgehog champion and turn your street into Hedgehog Street.

by Ros Patching

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

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