Although they were once a common sight, there are fewer than 1 million left in Britain. They are in danger, but there are things that you can do to help them survive.
Up and down the country, there are dedicated hedgehog rescue centres and Port Patrick is no exception. The rescue centres support the actions of our local residents and help to protect and repopulate hedgehogs in the area.
One thing you may have noticed in the parks, is that they are not mowing right up to the edges, but are focusing on the hedgerows, and leaving a headland of longer grass which allows the hedgehogs to forage in relative safety. It is important to try and understand more about the population so the park managers can change the way they do things and think in a hedgehog friendly way.
One thing that the rescue centres focus on is finding females in order to help repopulate the park hedgehogs. Now more than ever, babies are vital to the repopulation and survival of the species, so at rescue centres around the country, all the females are given pregnancy scans when they are found. In early pregnancy, the baby will just be like a black circle. They can have several babies at once, but in the wild, less than half of babies make it through their first year. This is why, pregnant hedgehogs are put into a safe environment to give birth in rescue centres.
They will stay there until the mum and babies are healthy enough and strong enough to return to the wild.
Some babies don’t have particularly good starts. They can be really badly dehydrated, without their mums, and their energy will be used to simply ensure the vital organs are kept functional, where the rest of the body is generally being shut down. Young hedgehogs found in this condition would not survive long without the support of hedgehog rescue centres.
The young hoglets nurse for around 3-4 weeks before they are able to start heading out on foraging trips. The young have so much energy, but will not stay with their mother for long. Within 10 days they will be able to forage by themselves.
The rescue workers will feed and massage the hoglets when they take them in and they are in a bad condition. The tiny hedgehogs can only be a few centimetres long.
If you find a hedgehog in your garden, then you can put out cat food or dog food. Avoid milk as they are lactose intolerant.
The European hedgehogs that we have are driven by their sense of smell and can run quite fast – even up to around six miles per hour, allowing them to move quickly when they need to escape danger.
Hedgehogs are very cute, with long snouts and little black noses. Their spikes offer them some protection from danger – you will notice them curl up in a ball and puff up to extend their spikes when they are feeling afraid.
If you want to make your garden hedgehog friendly, this is really simple. Log piles are a great way to encourage hedgehogs to come and nest and forage. Solid walls block hedgehogs, so think about how the hedgehog can move from your garden to the next one. There are plenty of different access points, and this will help them to move freely around when foraging. Make sure that you don’t use pesticides that will be harmful to hedgehogs. Create wild areas where hedgehogs can feed and nest, and this is a great way to encourage hedgehogs to live happily and comfortably in the local area.