UK Hedgehog Awareness Week – 2-8 May 2021

Bowdleflode News No. 36 – May 2021

Hedgehog feeding at Bowdle HQ

In this issue of our e-news we are honouring UK Hedgehog Awareness Week (2-8 May 2021) with a special edition dedicated solely to the nation’s favourite mammal. 
It is estimated that the number of hedgehogs in the UK has fallen from around 1.5million in 1995 to around 500,000 today. Rapidly vanishing from towns and countryside, why have things gone so badly wrong for British Hedgehogs? And even more importantly, what is being done to help them?

Throughout the 1980s, the main concerns for these fascinating and adorable creatures revolved around the numbers being killed on the roads, so much so it became something of a running joke and ironically led them to being used in cartoon form by the Department for Transport as an educational tool for children.  Fast forward a few decades and now the hedgehog has joined the sorry list of species considered as Vulnerable to Extinction (within the next 20 years) on the Red List for British Mammals.

It became very clear over the years that the only way change would happen would be if conservationists and ecologists who were already involved, kept pushing forward.  One such person aided a significant turning point in 2011 – Dilys Breese, BBC natural history television producer, left money in her will to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), to be spent on conservation.  She had also left money to the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).  Both charities acknowledged the value of working together would be far greater and so Hedgehog Street was born.

Hedgehog Street’s campaign is straightforward, their research has indicated that one of the key problems the species face is habitat fragmentation and they have been able to identify the minimum requirements for healthy hedgehog populations.

Two major conclusions were that there needs to be a starting population of 30 individuals and an area of 90ha – nearly a square kilometre. And surprisingly, surburbia is a first class habitat for hedgehogs. But it’s highly unlikely that any of us have gardens of that size! In fact the average garden size in the UK is just 0.0188ha (188m2) – this doesn’t mean they are not valuable to wildlife in general and hedgehogs in particular. As long as hedgehogs have access to a large number of garden spaces, as well as the potential provided by well managed parks and other green spaces and urban landscapes, the problem can start to be resolved.

Hedgehogs feeding at Bowdle HQ

This is where Hedgehog Street’s message comes in – a campaign to connect gardens for hedgehogs allowing them passage via 13cm holes in walls and fences – linking crucial hedgehog habitat and connecting neighbours in the process. Hedgehog Street parties are not unknown!

From humble beginnings 10 years ago, Hedgehog Street has now proudly achieved over 90,000 supporters – demonstrating just how much the species means to the British people. Here at Bowdle HQ we are lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and our gardens are home to these frequent spiky visitors. Always an advocate for wildlife, founder Neil, does his bit for the species by providing hedgehog houses throughout the property and makes sure the habitats are all linked. Every night they are also fed suitable food for wild hedgehogs and during winter any animals needing further care are taken to the local wildlife centre.

Carry on reading more to see what others across the country are doing and how you can help to do your bit in your community.

Hedgehog First Aid

One particular rescue centre close to Bowdle HQ’s heart and supported by Neil, is Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital.  Based in Sidlesham, West Sussex, they admit injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife patients direct from the public, from the RSPCA, or from local vets who have pre-assessed them as needing wildlife care, recuperation and rehabilitation.

Their aim is to responsibly release animals back to the wild once they are well enough.  Last year alone the hospital admitted over 3,000 animals with 607 of those being hedgehogs.

Like many other wildlife charities, the Lodge receives no government funding and relies solely on the generosity of its supporters, fund raising activities, business partnerships and grant applications. 

Hedgehog Heroes!

The Kirtlington Wildlife and Conservation Society is a small community group that is certainly doing its part when it comes to helping hedgehogs.

Kirtlington is a small village in Oxfordshire which is full of stone walls.  So, when it came to linking gardens together, it wasn’t an easy task!  The group used a map to calculate the minimum number of holes needed to maximise connectivity between the gardens.  The support from the community has been amazing.

The result is an array of creative holes linking 60 premises, including the village church, the pub and the school.

Homes for Hedgehogs

If you’re feeling inspired by these creatures, you might want to give them somewhere nice to sleep – not just during the day, when they aren’t often about, but even through the winter, then we’ve got some suggestions for you here.

1. HEDGEHOG HOME 
£59.95

shop.britishhedgehogs.org.uk
A top of the range cleverly designed product, made from recycled plastic and FSC wood. I t has built-in air ventilation, internal tunnel for protection and a lift and twist lid making it secure but easy for cleaning if necessary.

2. HEDGEHOG HOUSE
£29.99

coopersofstortford.co.uk
A simple design which includes an entry tunnel as well as lid for easy access. Made from untreated Chinese fir wood so completely safe. Just place it in a sheltered position, against a wall or fence, add some dry leaves or bedding and wait for your first inhabitant!

3. HEDGEHOG BASKET
£14.99
birdfood.co.uk

An imitation of a natural nest, this hedgehog basket is the ideal accommodation for a hedgehog. Place the basket on a dry surface in a sheltered and quiet place in the garden, add some loose leaves in the basket. Then cover the basket with a thick layer of leaves, branches and other natural materials – leaving the opening free.

Bowdleflode of the Month

Meet HEDGEPLATADOVE

 

Created by ALISHA at Castle Hill Primary, Chessington, UK

This month we had to of course feature HEDGEPLATADOVE!  This Bowdleflode has the head of a hedgehog, a beak, the wings of a turtledove and a platypus tail and legs.  Their diet consists of fish and insects.  They live in wetland areas where they are very independent, clever and somewhat shy.