Hedgehogs are one of the most familiar – and most popular – of Britain’s native species of wildlife.
But did you know that the numbers of these prickly animals are in sharp decline? In fact, our once abundant spiky friends could soon find themselves on the endangered species list.
The Hedgehog Hotel is a charity based in Dipton, near Consett, County Durham. The charity’s mission is to rescue and rehabilitate injured hogs and to educate people about the creatures’ needs.
Jacqui Clarke, from The Hedgehog Hotel, said, “It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week and one of our oldest living mammals is in dire need of your help.”
“I’m hoping to persuade councils, developers and members of the public to be more aware of our spiky ‘garden friend’ who may be nesting in gardens, hedgerows and under sheds.”
“We run solely on donations from the public and I recently released 13 over-wintered hogs back into the wild.”
“I work closely with a network of hedgehog carers in Durham and the surrounding areas and between us we save hundreds upon hundreds of hedgehogs each year.”
“Hedgehogs have seen a huge decline over the past couple of decades. This is mainly due to more roads and traffic and fencing off gardens.”
“Sadly, we are constantly admitting severely injured hedgehogs with life-threatening injuries. Most injuries are either road traffic accidents, dog attacks or gardening injuries, in particular strimmers and mowers.”
According to Jacqui, you can help your local hedgehogs by:
- Performing a five-minute check for wildlife before operating strimmers and other gardening equipment
- Creating a ‘hedgehog highway’ by leaving a CD-sized hole in your fence to give the creatures freedom to roam
- Leaving out a shallow bowl of water and some dried complete cat biscuits to encourage prickly visitors to frequent your garden. (Do not, however, leave out milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Also, do not put any mealworms in their food, as they can cause bone diseases in hedgehogs.)
- Making a simple feeding station and making or buying a nesting box. Nesting boxes for hedgehogs can be purchased cheaply online.
- Leaving some parts of your garden wild, with scattered log piles and insect homes
The Hedgehog Hotel works alongside the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), with which Jacqui is a registered hedgehog carer.
Jacqui, in cooperation with the BHPS, will be giving out stickers to councils, developers and other organisations to raise awareness of hedgehogs’ needs.
Councils and businesses which meet the needs of our spiky friends will be added to the Hedgehog Heroes Board on the BHPS website, thereby receiving a free publicity boost.
The Hedgehog Hotel also works alongside Prince Bishops Vets in Leadgate, near Consett, who, Jacqui says, “are truly amazing, helping me return big fat healthy hedgehogs back to the wild.”
More information about hedgehogs and their plight can be found on The Hedgehog Hotel Facebook Page.
You can also learn more by visiting the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website at https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/.