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Hedgehog numbers halved since millennium

Hedgehogs, Erinaceus europaeus, are a woodland edge species that also make use of hedgerows and suburban gardens. The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report, from People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, says Britain has lost half its hedgehogs in less than two decades. The main causes are habitat loss and lack of landscape-scale connectivity.

Woodland edge and hedgerow destruction and poor management are major contributing factors in hedgehog decline, causing habitat loss and reducing macroinvertebrates available for food. The use of pesticides on farmland and garden plots can have detrimental impacts on hedgehogs and their food supply. In urban areas the use of impermeable fencing, loss of compost heaps and increasing development are other major issues.

Supporting hedgehog survival

With Henry Johnson from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, we looked at the above problems for hedgehogs in the mammal issue of our Wood Wise publication. We also looked to offer solutions and actions we can all take to save our spiny friends.

We have three key aims: protect, restore and create trees, hedgerows and woods. For the benefit of wildlife and people, we protect and/or restore over 1,200 woods in our care. We work with landowners to plant trees and create new woodland. We also promote the retention, planting and good management of hedgerows, which allows species like hedgehogs to move freely through the landscape and provides them sources of food.

There are lots of ways to help our hedgehogs (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)
There are lots of ways to help our hedgehogs (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

What can you do to help?

You can help hedgehogs and other wildlife by planting trees, hedgerows and woods on your land or in your local community. Compost heaps are a favourite home for hedgehogs and providing holes or gaps in fences and hedges will allow them access to your land. 

We have a range of hedgehog products in our shop, including hedgehog houses that offer shelter for our prickly guests. You can also provide provisions in your garden, but not bread and milk as they are bad for their stomachs. A constant supply of drinking water is essential, especially during times of frost and drought, while hedgehog food, dog food, minced meat or cat biscuits are ideal.

Due to the warmer winter, some hedgehogs are already out in gardens looking for food – so keep your eyes peeled.

Give hedgehogs a home in your garden

Buy a hedgehog house