Although the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is stable in many other parts of Europe, it is in decline in Britain. In the 1950’s the hedgehog population was estimated to be at around 30 million. By 1995 this was 1.5million and since then there is believed to have been a rapid decline.

Scientific surveys have suggested the rate of decline may be as high as 10% of the total population per year. Loss of natural habitat to development and agriculture are contributing; as is use of pesticides in farming – as the number of pests are reduced there is less food for hedgehogs to eat. New building sites can ‘carve up’ habitats and make it hard for local populations of hedgehogs to breed.

What can you do to help our spikey little friends?

Hedgehogs like to live in hedgerows, but will nest anywhere there is good cover. Provide rough areas for shelter. Hedgehogs also need to move around over (relatively) large areas (up to 2km per night) in order to find food and mates, therefore allowing a small opening for access in fences can help prevent fragmentation. You can purchase, or make, hog houses and place them on your plot or in the surrounding hedgerows around the site. Non-organic blue slug pellets can poison hedgehogs if they consume a high quantity of contaminated slugs so try to avoid these where possible, or reduce their usage. If you do have a pond ensure there is a safe exit route. Check areas before strimming, hedgehogs are nocturnal and not usually out during the daytime so if you see a hog out in the day it could be a sign of distress.

If you see a hedgehog looking disorientated or ill, see the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for advice.

Why are hedgehogs important for your allotment plot or garden?

Hedgehogs eat slugs, as well as other pests like caterpillars and beetles – very useful! In addition, hedgehogs are an ‘indicator’ species. This means that ecologically if hedgehogs are doing well it is likely that there is a good balance in the environment and a variety of species are also thriving.

Visit Our Hogwatch for more information and to get involved with hog monitoring.