A few days ago I sat in my parents’ conservatory, waiting for their resident hedgehog to trot down the gravel pathway towards the veritable banquet that they had put out for him. He had woken from hibernation just a couple of weeks ago – they believe he overwintered in their purpose built hedgehog house at the bottom of their garden. As soon as my parents saw black hedgehog poo again on the steps to the lawn, they began putting out RSPB cranberry crunch which includes premium suet pellets, sunflower hearts, peanut nibs, dried mealworms and dried cranberries, along with a little cat food.
As we settled into comfortable chairs, the light began to thin and a blackbird gave an alarm call as my mother’s cat prowled past, his eyes intent on the shadows. Fortunately the spines on the back of our resident hog meant that Arthur kept a respectable distance away and both hedgehog and cat tolerated each other.
Then, at about 8:15, a low slung figure powered its way down the gravel pathway and disappeared into a flower bed. I am always amazed at how quickly hedgehogs can move – some say around 4.5mph – but they have surprisingly long legs at around 10 cms length.
A few minutes later we flashed a torch towards the area and saw not one but TWO hedgehog feeding upon the cranberry crunch. This is fantastic news and we are all keeping our fingers crossed for hoglets in May – in fact just a few days later, my parents reported seeing the hedgehogs performing their long courtship ritual, with the male attempting to woo the female, by circling her, with much accompanying snorting and puffing.
As the People’s Trust for Endangered Species points out, shockingly hedgehogs have declined in Britain as fast as tigers worldwide. The decline of hedgehogs is potentially linked to a range of factors associated with the intensification of agriculture historically, the presence of badgers, an increase in road density and traffic volume, and aspects of climate change. Wildlife friendly gardening is one of the vital elements needed to save these unusual and beautiful creatures.
Hedgehog Street is a fabulous campaign site which provides oodles of information of what you can do to help hedgehogs. It’s simple things like not using slug pellets and creating a hole in your fence to allow hedgehogs to pass through, that can make all the difference.
Please do let me know what you are doing to help hedgehogs and whether you have any prickly visitors to your garden.