Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are the UKs only spiny mammal with around 5,000 creamy-brown spines and grey-brown fur on their underside. They protect themselves from natural enemies by rolling into a tight ball erecting their spines when threatened. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and are generally found in hedgerows, woodland edges overgrown pastures and gardens. Between November and March hedgehogs hibernate to conserve energy, remaining largely inactive. Thought to be widespread and locally common in Britain and Ireland but there is evidence of a drastic decline over the last few decades. Download our hedgehog factsheet by clicking here.
reasons for their decline
The reasons for the decline in UK hedgehog numbers are complex, but are thought tobe associated with the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands; the intensificationof agriculture and larger field sizes; while the use of pesticide reduces the amount of prey available in the countryside. Also badgers are a natural predator of hedgehogs and they will actively avoid sites where badgers are present in large numbers, an increasing problem because there are fewer areas for hedgehogs to take refuge in. Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, but the move towards tidy, sterile gardens has also contributed to their demise. Road deaths may be locally important. Read the summary of the latest report on hedgehog populations- The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2011 or click here for the full report.
how we are helping
Over the next three years PTES and BHPS (British Hedgehog Preservation Society)are funding a programme of practical research projects to further scientific understanding about the causes for the decline in hedgehog numbers and most importantly what can be done to reverse this threat to this iconic species. Part funders also include the BBC Wildlife Fund. Over the last 10 years we have also funded a number of other research projects through out grants programme and collected records through Hogwatch.
how you can help
You can get involved with helping the nation’s hedgehogs by taking part in one of our hedgehog projects and surveys. These include encouraging hedgehogs on a neighbourhood scale through Hedgehog Street, recording sightings in your garden every spring through Living with Mammals and even surveying hedgehogs dead or alive on the roads during the summer as part of Mammals on Roads.
You can also help to raise funds by purchasing a hedgehog gift from our online shop.