The population of hedgehogs in the UK has declined by around 50% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas due to urbanization, which destroys natural habitats, and intensive farming practices that reduce hedgerows and other habitats. Gardening practices involving machinery and the use of chemicals, such as slug pellets, are also detrimental to their health. Predation by foxes and badgers is also a significant threat. To conserve hedgehogs, creating a hedgehog-friendly garden, reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals, avoiding using tools that harm hedgehogs, and driving carefully are recommended. Hedgehogs typically hibernate between November and mid-March.
Hedgehog is one of the most beloved mammals in the UK. They are a common sight in gardens, hedgerows and parks. Hedgehogs often come out at night to search for food, mainly insects, snails, and worms.
However, their population has been declining rapidly due to urbanization. Since the 1950s, hedgehog populations have declined by around 50% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons behind the decline of hedgehog population in the UK and what we can do to help conserve them.
Reasons behind the decline of hedgehog population in the UK
Urbanization is one of the main reasons why hedgehog population is declining in the UK. As more and more land is taken up for residential and commercial development, the natural habitats of hedgehogs are destroyed, and they struggle to find suitable places to live.
The construction of fences and walls also limits their movement, making it difficult for them to access food and water sources. Urban areas are also hostile environments, with increased levels of pollution, noise, and artificial lighting that can interfere with their natural behavior and disrupt their sleep patterns.
Intensive farming practices
The intensification of agriculture practices over the last few decades has led to a reduction in the number of hedgerows and other habitats where hedgehogs can live. The use of pesticides and other chemicals has also decreased the availability of food sources for hedgehogs, as many of their prey species are killed off or have their numbers reduced.
Mechanical methods of gardening
Gardening practices that involve the use of strimmers, mowers and leaf blowers can cause significant harm to hedgehogs, as they can be injured or killed by accidents involving these tools. The use of chemicals such as slug pellets is also detrimental to their health.
Predation by foxes and badgers, both of which have increased in number as a result of changes in land use, is also a significant threat to hedgehogs.
What can we do to help conserve hedgehogs?
We can all help conserve hedgehogs by taking some simple steps:
Create a hedgehog-friendly garden
Create a hedgehog-friendly garden by providing natural habitats such as log piles, hedgehog houses, and wild areas where hedgehogs can forage and find shelter.
Reduce the use of pesticides and chemicals
Avoid using pesticides and chemicals in your garden, as they can kill off prey species and poison hedgehogs. Use natural pest control methods instead.
Don’t use strimmers, mowers or leaf blowers
Avoid using strimmers, mowers, and leaf blowers in areas where hedgehogs are known to live. Instead, use manual tools such as shears and rakes.
Drive carefully on roads and be aware of hedgehogs crossing.
What time of year do hedgehogs hibernate in the UK?
Hedgehogs typically hibernate between November and mid-March.
What should I do if I find a hedgehog in my garden?
If you find a hedgehog in your garden during the summer, leave it alone unless you think it is in immediate danger. If you find a hedgehog during the winter or it appears to be injured, contact your local wildlife rescue center or vet.
Can I feed hedgehogs in my garden?
Feeding hedgehogs in your garden can be beneficial, but only do so with appropriate food, such as meat-based cat or dog food or specialist hedgehog food, and avoid giving them milk or bread.
Are hedgehogs nocturnal?
Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night, but can also be seen during the day on occasion.