Hedgehogs are found across the UK. Gardens, hedgerows,
woodlands, grasslands, parks and cemeteries are all important
hedgehog habitats. Adult hedgehogs travel between 1-2km per night
over home ranges as big as 10-20 hectares in size. In suburban
areas, this means they range over entire neighbourhoods.
Hedgehogs are one of only a handful of UK mammals to truly
hibernate, along with bats and dormice, which hibernate over the
winter. They begin hibernation from October/November to
March/April, lowering their body temperature and slowing their
metabolism to save energy. Hedgehogs can sometimes be seen out and
about in winter, when the weather has been mild.
Hedgehog numbers have reduced by around 30% since 2002. This is
due to a number of factors including an increase in the number of
roads and traffic, loss of hedgerows, use of pesticides and more
fencing between gardens.
Hedgehogs now appear to be declining in the UK at the same rate
as tigers are globally - at around 5% a year, both in rural and
Ten easy ways to help hedgehogs:
Create hedgehog highways. The most important
thing we can do for hedgehogs is to give them access between our
gardens and other green spaces. Get together with your neighbours
to cut a 13cm x 13cm (5in) hole in your bottom of fence or dig a
channel beneath garden boundaries to connect your gardens.
Avoid the use of pesticides and slug pellets if
you can.Apart from possibly poisoning the hedgehogs, you need as
many different insects in a garden to attract hedgehogs and other
wildlife. The golden rule - the more wildlife, the more
predators the less pests!
Create log piles and don't be too tidy
underneath hedges and shrubs. These are an attractive nest sites as
well as a home for the slugs, beetles and worms that hedgehogs like
Make a hedgehog home which can be as simple as
placing a piece of board against a wall/fence in a quite part of
the garden and covering it with twigs and leaves. Or buy a purpose
built hedgehog house.
Make sure there are easy routes out of
ponds. Hedgehogs can swim but not for ever! Also
cover drains and other holes that they may fall down.
Check for hedgehogs before using strimmers or
mowers, particularly under hedges where animals may rest. Check
compost heaps and leaf mould piles for nesting hogs before forking
Check bonfires thoroughly before lighting and
build them as close to time of lighting as possible.
Remove plastic netting when not in use to
prevent hedgehogs becoming entangled, and getting injured. Also
pick up litter especially plastic bags and six pack rings.
Leave food and fresh water out in the garden
especially in the autumn and winter. Foods like minced meat, tinned
dog or cat food (not fish-based), crushed cat biscuits, sunflower
hearts and dried meal worms are all good. To avoid the food you put
out being eaten by pets or foxes you could make a feeding station
using piping or build a shelter out of wood that is difficult for
anything larger than a hedgehog to access.
Never feed hedgehogs milk, they are lactose
intolerant and it will cause diarrhoea. Bread is also useless as it
is very low in energy.
Further information about helping hedgehogs can be found at the
RSPCA advice and welfare
Hedgehog Street: City