Where Did All The Hedgehogs Go
Besides the ones made from milk chocolate curls and disguised as a cake, many UK residents can’t remember the last time they saw two hedgehogs. This decrease has become more noticeable in recent years and visits to gardens are becoming increasingly uncommon.
This was confirmed last week in an annual survey by the RSPB exploring what is in UK gardens: foxes, badgers and slow worms all recorded and varying in rarity. Of the gardens in the 4 counties surveyed (139,000 gardens surveyed), one quarter or 34,000+ did not record a hedgehog sighting. City/town hedgehog numbers might be down due to the fact that there is more congestion on roads. Enhanced by the increasing amount of people having to commute to work. There is less space for gardens in new housing and less green spaces in general because of urbanisation.
The countryside kind are compatible with the city kind in numbers decrease it seems. According to Hedgehog Street ‘Hedgehogs now appear to be declining in the UK’ ‘at around 5% a year, both in rural and urban habitats.’ The hedgehog is an omnivore so they can eat a variety of foods: beetles, earthworms and small dead mammals as well as plants, making them a garden staple. However, in the countryside hedgerows that act as biological corridors and an abundant food source for hedgehogs are disappearing. This is due to agricultural expansion and alternative fencing meaning less available food for ‘hogs. As expected there is then limited movement and shelter for hedgehogs overall, another threat.
It’s easier to help city hedgehogs as this is where most of the UK population lives and Hedgehog Street have a list of foods to put out, including pet food and peanuts. There’s also advice on how to keep this away from cats. Those lucky enough to live in the countryside can also help by putting out food in the same way and driving carefully on country roads at night, when they are most active. Long term solutions are needed additionally to secure the future of hedgehogs.
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