Join the Fight to Help Hedgehogs In Surrey!

Tuesday 25th April 2017

HedgehogHedgehog - Gillian Day

Hedgehogs are in trouble and Surrey Wildlife Trust is launching a new campaign to survey these adorable creatures and improve their habitat in the county. The Trust is calling on all animal lovers to keep an eye out for the prickly mammals and report their findings on a new ‘Hedgehog Hotspots’ web page.

Hedgehogs are disappearing faster than tigers are worldwide...

The project is being launched to coincide with National Hedgehog Awareness Week 2017, which runs from April 30th to May 6th, backed by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Hedgehogs used to be a familiar and well-loved visitor to our gardens, but their numbers have fallen by nearly a third since 2002 – they’re disappearing faster than tigers are worldwide. Back in 1950 the UK population was roughly 30 million, but fewer than one million hedgehogs are left and numbers are continuing to decline.

“We want to see the declining trend in hedgehogs reversed and to help us understand more about hedgehogs across Surrey, we'd love to know whether people have seen any hedgehogs recently,” said Dawn Fielding, The Trust’s Wildlife Gardening Officer. 

“We need to know the postcode of the sighting, whether the animal was dead or alive, how many hedgehogs were there and what they were doing - feeding, mating, drinking, walking or whatever.”

Hedgehogs are a traditional icon of British wildlife and they were voted as the UK’s national species in 2013. The decline of our native hedgehog can be blamed on declining hedgerow quality, the over-management of parks and gardens, loss of green space to paving/decking and chemical use in gardens and on farmland, which leads to fewer insects for hedgehogs to eat. 

“Most of the hedgehogs in this country now survive in suburban areas as they have been driven out of more rural areas,” said Dawn. “But they are still not entirely safe even in our well-manicured back gardens. They can end up as road kill on local roads or be harmed by lawnmowers and bonfires, and they’re increasingly under threat from the effects of climate change, which can potentially alter their hibernation behaviour - so they desperately need our help.”

Here are the Trust’s five top tips to help hedgehogs in Surrey:
• Cut a small hole in the base of your garden fence to provide a corridor for hedgehogs to move between gardens. They can travel up to 2km a night!
• Reduce garden pesticides and ditch the slug pellets - let hedgehogs be your pest control.
• Keep a messy garden, leaving hedgehogs piles of leaves, long grass and logs to hide/feed in.
• Check compost heaps and bonfires for hedgehogs before digging in a fork or setting alight.
• Cover drains or deep holes and provide escape routes from ponds to prevent hedgehogs from getting stuck or drowning. 

The Trust has a number of ‘hedgehog footprint tunnels’ that can be loaned to hedgehog spotters. These include a patch of black ink to record the tracks of any nocturnal visitors passing through. The public can also look out for hedgehog poo, which is quite distinctive and looks like a dark slug! 

“We hope gardeners, schools and community groups will get involved and help us look out for hedgehogs. Once we have a clearer picture of where hedgehogs are living, we can work with local communities to improve habitats there and give these wonderful creatures a helping hand,” added Dawn.
“But whatever you do - no matter how big or small - as long as you are getting out there and getting interested in hedgehogs, you will be helping!”

To report a sighting of a hedgehog anywhere in Surrey – dead or alive – visit the Trust’s ‘Hedgehog Hotspots’ web page and enter the details here >> 

Tagged with: Living Landscapes, Outdoor learning, Species, Wildlife gardening, Wildlife Watch