Hedgehogs need protecting
Sadly, one of our most loved British mammals the hedgehog is starting to disappear from the wild.
They have an average of 500 spines everywhere apart from their face, bellies, and legs. Their prickly spines are used as a defense and when they crunch up into a ball they are defending and protecting their body.
The younger mammal is called a hoglet and during colder climates, they will hibernate and through the warmer months, they will sleep, which is called aestivation.
During winter, food can become scarce and often they will spend the warmer months in summer eating as much food as possible to store fat, which they will use while they sleep. However, if they haven’t stored enough fat and the weather is harsh they may not survive.
The hibernation period usually starts from November through to March. During this time, their body temperatures will often drop considerably according to their surroundings and their breathing will slow down and almost stop.
As nocturnal and solitary animals, they like to make a nest and wake up at dusk to go hunting for food. They can roam over 2-4 km in a night and they can even swim. Their eyesight is generally poor but they have a great sense of smell, touch, and hearing.
These fascinating animals protect themselves by self-anointing. This is when they eat certain poisonous plants (which they are immune to) and will go on to produce a frothy saliva which they use to coat their spines with. Incredibly, this is known to help hide their scent from predators.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the hedgehog is not threatened and receives some protection. However, they die every year for many reasons including road traffic, chemical poisoning in gardens and through hibernation.
Due to the cold, or fire or people disturbing and ruining their nest.
They love our gardens; however, they can have chemicals which can be fatal for them. Avoid using chemicals and make your garden a hedgehog-friendly one.
They need to fatten themselves up for winter so leaving a bowl out with tinned cat or dog food out will help them.
Provide dry and safe areas for them to explore and even hibernate in, somewhere they can find a pile of leaves or straw. If you have a wall consider opening a small area so they continue to travel through.
Always keep a look out for them under leaves, logs, and compost, they may have created a nest for themselves to hibernate in. Always check underneath for hedgehogs before lighting bonfires.