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Where have all the hedgehogs gone?

When was the last time you saw Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and her family in your garden? According to a recent survey, there’s a good chance it was over a year ago…

After a few false starts to spring, I’m slowly getting through the list of gardening jobs I set myself back in the bleak midwinter.

Alas, as soon as I tick jobs off the list, I’m finding a whole new set of things that need doing.

My chief problem now is the last panel of my neighbour’s fence has completely disintegrated, leaving a gaping hole in our boundary that the local cats and foxes have clearly been using as a thoroughfare/toilet.

With my neighbour highly unlikely to fix the issue, I’ve been wondering how best I can reinstate the boundary. But reading about the continuing decline of hedgehogs and how I’ve inadvertently contributed to their plight, I’m thinking I might just leave things be.

Hogs in peril

According to a recent survey, sightings of Britain’s favourite mammal have fallen again, with almost six in 10 people saying they haven’t seen one at all in the past year.

The figure is up from the 51% who said they had not seen a hedgehog in 2016, and 48% who did not see one at all in 2015.

It follow news that the UK hedgehog population has fallen by half since 2000 and it is estimated there are now less than a million compared to 30m in the 1950s.

And when I come to think of it, while I’ve seen an increase of greenfinches, long-tailed tits, squirrels and even parakeets and herons in my garden in the past year, I’ve seen neither hide nor spike of a hog.

What can we do?

In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen one since I replaced my fence with concrete gravel boards and posts a few years back. And there lies the problem, as more secure fencing is one of the reasons why hedgehogs are in decline.

So I’ll be leaving the gaping hole in my neighbour’s fence well alone and am now thinking I’ll widen a gap I’ve seen in my own fence to create a hedgehog highway. I’ll also be using organic slug pellets, researching wildlife-friendly shrubs (that also suit part shade – suggestions welcome) and erecting some bug hotels.

After all, help the wildlife and it will, in turn, help me.

Have you noticed a decline in visits by hedgehogs in your garden this year? Do you do anything to encourage them? Or, if you have them, do you do anything to help them? What other wildlife have you seen a decrease or increase of in your garden?

Comments

Some people like badgers, others like hedgehogs – but who will stand up for slugs? Do they not have any good features? I think most of them are repellently unattractive but I would never kill one.

Slug slime is an example of a class of polymers called hydrogels. Adhesives that will bond to tissues and are non-toxic have been developed that mimic the properties of slug slime: https://phys.org/news/2018-03-team-hydrogel-adhesives-wounds.html

I don’t like maggots but they have role in wound cleaning. The problem we humans seem to have is we like to tamper with nature without really understanding what we are doing.

I take it you mean America malcolm and the future imports of hormone food etc ? Apparently all those hormones in America have affected the sterility of male pigs and the government are wondering why .

Karen de la Harpe says:
25 May 2019

Don’t hedgehogs eat slugs?

Devon Bob says:
29 September 2018

Hedgehogs – we leave out 2 pet feeding bowls around 8.30pm each night containing unsalted peanuts, mealworms and a few raisins, plus some water. Number feeding now up to 4. A pile of tree and hedge cuttings at the top of the garden are where some have made home. A few spaces in the borders allow them to explore nearby gardens.

DerekP says:
29 September 2018

A few weeks ago, I actually saw a dead hedgehog on the roadside here in Gloucester. That’s the first one – dead or alive – that I’ve seen for ages.

In contrast, both foxes and bunnies are far more commonly seen round here.

Agricultural slug killers such as methiocarb and metaldehyde are believed to be significant factors. The hedgehogs are killed by eating poisoned slugs and snails.

Lawrence Hazlewood says:
6 October 2018

for three years now we have followed the coming and going of “our” hedgehogs as they visit our feeding station and make use of the hibernation boxes we provided ,much of this was recorded on a trail cam ,we have seen as many as three at a time feeding ,this year the hogs awoke in spring and just disappeared .
We have not seen a single hog over the whole summer ,we had hoped that they might visit again now that the winter is around the corner but no sign ,has the very hot summer decimated them ???
Has anyone else had similar experience.

For an answer to Lawrence,s post and I hope he contacts this organization in England – the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species & the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. I have in the past signed petitions for “hedgehog tunnels ” https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/help-hedgehogs/

Perhaps it was the slugs that suffered in the heat and deprived the hedgehogs of their main food source.

I remember seeing them regularly in my garden as a child, but haven’t seen one for years. I’ll look into making my garden more hedgehog friendly. I miss them.

I’m still yet to ever see one, but do remember always checking the bonfire before we lit it when I was younger to make sure it didn’t have any inhabitants!