A Letter from Richard Green
LET’S HELP DARSHAM’S HEDGEHOGS
You may be aware that Darsham has a small population of hedgehogs. What you may not know is that nationally, hedgehog numbers are in rapid decline. It is believed that there are now just half the number of hedgehogs than in the year 2000. Conservative estimates are that there are now fewer than half a million hedgehogs in Britain (down from an estimated 36 million in the 1950s). In fact, some believe that hedgehogs could face extinction in the wild in just 10 years. Worrying, isn’t it?
It may come as a surprise that hedgehogs are most under threat in rural areas due to intensive farming and the use of pesticides. In places like Darsham especially, rural development is destroying hedgehogs’ natural habitats such as hedgerows. In fact, I currently have a hedgehog visiting my garden most nights, having been woken from hibernation and made homeless by the new development on The Street.
As a lover of wildlife, I felt strongly that I should take action and write to you in the hope that we in Darsham might take some small steps together as a community to help our local hedgehogs.
Although hedgehogs are usually hibernating at this time of year, you might see them out and about on a mild night, either moving their hibernation nest or looking for a snack. Over the page is a list of little things we can do to help.
LITTLE THINGS THAT WE CAN DO TO HELP
- On mild nights, put out a little dish of meaty cat or dog food and a shallow dish of water if you know you have a visiting hedgehog.
- Don’t feed hedgehogs bread or milk. The bread swells in their little tummies, and hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.
- Tidy your garden of any rubbish like plastic or metal that a hedgehog could get trapped in or injure themselves on…
- …but not too tidy – piles of leaves are perfect nesting places.
- Try to avoid using chemical-based weedkillers, lawn feed and slug pellets. There are some very good natural alternatives available.
- If you have an enclosed garden like mine, make some hedgehog holes in fences and gates – a 6-inch square hole is enough (take a look at the bottom of my side gate for an example).
- If building bonfires, try to build them on the same day as lighting. Otherwise, check very carefully for hedgehogs before lighting.
- If you find a hedgehog that is:
- very small (less than 450 grams = a small melon), OR
- motionless for a long period of time, OR
- shivering, OR
- out in the daytime
…they are likely to need some help – please give me a call.
If you’re worried about a hedgehog, want some more advice, or just want to share a hedgehog story, please feel free to get in touch with me by text, phone, e-mail, or knock on the door:
Richard, 2 Millfields, Darsham