Today, in Eastcote, you have to be lucky to see hedgehogs, but around 70/60 years ago they were almost commonplace. The same is true throughout the UK. There were around 30 million hedgehogs in the 1950’s, but by 1995 this had declined to approximately 1.5 million. More recent surveys suggest that these numbers have continued to decline.
A number of reasons have been given for this: including overly tidy and totally enclosed gardens – hedgehogs need to move from one garden to another to feed, death due to increased traffic on the roads, climate change, using pesticides and more intensive agriculture with larger fields and less hedgerows.
Hedgehogs are still around in Eastcote – I have seen them in my garden recently, but we do need to take action to help increase their numbers. Below is a list of what you can do to help them; It would be terrible to lose these cute, lovely creatures for ever!
1, Make some gaps in your fence, (13 x 13cm/5 x 5”), and encourage your neighbours to do the same, so that the hedgehogs can travel the distances they need to find food and shelter and mate.
2, Plant hedges and create compost heaps, log piles and untidy corners for hedgehogs to sleep, feed and hide in.
3, Don’t use slug pellets, chemicals or pesticides in your garden. Encouraging hedgehogs to your garden will help reduce the numbers of slugs – they find them very tasty.
4, Leave out water for hedgehogs. If you have a pond, create a hedgehog escape route from it so they don’t get trapped. You can also leave out dog food for them to eat.
5, Check compost heaps and rough areas with your foot, before mowing, strimming or using a fork.
6, Always check the wood laid out for a bonfire, before setting alight. They can be attractive places for hedgehogs to go into hibernation.
Parent and Children’s Activities
You could also make a hedgehog house – see https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-hedgehog-home or https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/give-nature-a-home-in-your-garden/garden-activities/giveahogahome/ for instructions.
Or create your own basic hedgehog home using a box, and black bin bags for waterproofing/covering.
Get some clay and sticks to make your own hedgehog. You may not be able to put in as many spines as they have (a hedgehog can have from 5,000 to 7,000 spines), but you can still make a good likeness.