Press release: How to Help Hedgehogs this Autumn
10 hedgehog-friendly gardening tips for the months ahead
People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) have together produced a free guide of 10 tips to make your gardens hedgehog-friendly this autumn and help this small British mammal in decline. Their top tips: check your bonfires and make your gardens accessible!
Gardens and urban green spaces provide a vital habitat for hedgehogs to live in, but their numbers have fallen by more than a third over the last 10 years. By making your garden more hedgehog-friendly this autumn you will be helping animals prepare for hibernation, a critical time for any hedgehog. The ten tips offer advice and easy practical tasks for all the family to get involved in, whether green-fingered or not, for example:
With Halloween and bonfire night just around the corner it is more important than ever to check your bonfires before lighting them. Piles of debris are irresistible to a hedgehog looking for somewhere to hibernate or nest. Build your bonfire on the day you plan to burn it, or move the pile on the day of burning to avoid a tragic end.
Link your gardens
Hedgehogs roam between 1-2km each night in search of food, shelter and potential mates. They can also change nesting sites more than once during their hibernation period. It’s therefore critical that they can access a wide range of gardens and placing a 13cm x 13cm hole in your garden walls or fences will let hedgehogs through, but be too small for most pets. Once you’ve made a hole in your fence you can add it to the national map on the Hedgehog Street website.
Food and water
Hedgehogs really benefit from extra food, using it as a supplement to their natural diet. Meaty cat or dog food, hedgehog food, meal worms and chopped, unsalted peanuts are all suitable. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and should only be given water to drink.
Fay Vass, CEO of BHPS adds, “Hedgehogs will be roaming regularly at night at this time of year, and to them, bonfire piles appear to be a perfect source of shelter. We would therefore urge anyone who is planning to have a bonfire during the autumn months to check very carefully for hedgehog activity and to move their piles before lighting them to avoid casualties.”
Henry Johnson, Hedgehog Officer at PTES says: “In autumn months hedgehogs will be foraging for food to store up their fat reserves and seeking out suitable shelter in preparation for hibernation. This coincides with a generally busy time in the gardening calendar so it would be great if people can spare a thought for hedgehogs while they are pruning and mulching. Making log piles and storing leaf litter in a quiet corner of the garden creates natural nesting and feeding sites for them – and it’s so easy to do.”
To download your free copy of ‘10 tips for encouraging hedgehogs in your neighbourhood’ and to find out more about other ways in which you can help them visit www.hedgehogstreet.org
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NOTES TO EDITORS
• Visit www.hedgehogstreet.org for more information on making your garden hedgehog-friendly.
About PTES – www.ptes.org
• PTES is a UK conservation charity created in 1977 to ensure a future for endangered species throughout the world. Working to protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, it provides practical conservation support through funding research and internships; providing grant-aid for world-wide and native mammals species conservation; supporting education, training and outreach programmes; and driving public participation via wildlife monitoring surveys, publications, campaigns and events. Priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafer and stag beetles and traditional orchards and native woodlands.
• Visit www.ptes.org for more information about PTES or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About BHPS – www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk
• BHPS is a UK charity founded in 1982 dedicated to helping & protecting hedgehogs native to the UK. They run a helpline offering advice on caring for & encouraging hedgehogs in the wild and in gardens. They aim to educate the public on how best to help hedgehogs and fund research into the behavioural habits of hedgehogs to ascertain the best methods of assisting their survival.
• Wildlife charities PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in June 2011 to encourage hedgehog conservation action at a local community or neighbourhood level. Over 30,000 volunteer “Hedgehog Champions” up and down the country have registered to help to date and the campaign is ongoing, but we still need your help to make a difference. Visit www.hedgehogstreet.org for more information.
• A long-term trend analysis by PTES based on their Living with Mammals and Mammals on Roads surveys shows that hedgehog populations have plummeted by over a third in the last ten years.
• The reasons for the decline in UK hedgehog numbers are complex, but are thought to be associated with the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands; the intensification of agriculture and larger field sizes; and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available. Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, but the move towards tidy, sterile gardens isolated from one another by impermeable boundaries has also contributed to their demise.
• A range of academic research projects, funded by PTES and BHPS, also aim to further scientific understanding about the causes for the decline in hedgehog numbers and most importantly what can be done to reverse this threat to this iconic species.