Research shows worrying decline in hedgehogs

Research shows worrying decline in hedgehogs

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People across the country have been encouraged to do all they can to take care of hedgehogs after research showed a worrying decline in sightings.

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch found that 20 per cent of Britons have never seen a hedgehog in their garden, while only 28 per cent could say they saw them once a month or more.

Although 65 per cent of participants reported having seen one of the tiny mammals in the past year, they were much more likely to see non-native grey squirrels - indeed, 74 per cent of respondents said they had seen these monthly over the past 12 months.

There are now thought to be fewer than one million hedgehogs living in Britain, which is a staggering 30 per cent decrease since 2013.

Loss of hedgerows as the building of new homes continues apace is highlighted as one of the reasons, but people replacing bushes and hedges with fences in their gardens is also thought to be a contributing factor.

Conservation scientist at the RSPB Mark Eaton told the Daily Mail that without habitat corridors, hedgehogs cannot move from place to place to feed or mate.

"It doesn't matter if you have a garden with the most juicy hedgehog food, with lots of slugs and worms - if you fence them out, they are not going to get in," he pointed out.

To get around this if you do want fencing, try cutting five-inch squares into just a couple of panels to ensure the little creatures have access to next door.

This week is Hedgehog Awareness Week and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is encouraging everyone to get involved to make gardens friendlier places for these endangered animals.

You can download leaflets featuring gardening tips and dangers to avoid at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk, and the BHPS is also asking people to put posters up in schools, churches and anywhere else they can this week to raise awareness that hedgehogs are under threat.