Hedgehogs, once a common sight in gardens throughout the UK, are declining rapidly across the country.
An estimated 30% of hedgehogs have disappeared over the past decade, and there are now fewer than one million left.
Hedgehogs prey on many common garden pests including insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and snakes. These animals root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of food, and as it picks its way through the hedges it emits piglike grunts, hence the name hedgehog.
The Wildlife Trusts are working across the UK to restore habitat for wildlife and campaign for better protection for all nature. Many Trusts run projects to address the disappearance of the UK’s hedgehogs, including raising awareness in local communities, recording sightings, encouraging people to take action at home, and targeting hedgehog hotspots for conservation efforts.
The reasons for the declines are not clear, but habitat loss and urban development – particularly the loss of hedgerows, habitat fragmentation and the intensification of agriculture – is to blame. Roads, garden pest control – including slug pellets – and the increasing use of impenetrable garden fencing is also contributing to the decline of urban hedgehogs.
For local Trusts working across the country, one of the biggest priorities is collecting records of sightings, in order to have a more accurate picture of where help is most needed.
Trusts across the country are calling on the public to help them record sightings to add their hedgehog records. If you would like to help, get in touch with your local Trust.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea