Last week I attended a webinar run through the Hedgehog Friendly Campuses at The University of Sheffield and Nottingham Trent University in conjunction with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
There were two presentations from students studying at Nottingham Trent and both were fascinating but I wanted to share a few points I picked up from the first one delivered by Lauren Moore.
Lauren’s studies were focusing on hedgehogs on roads, exploring the challenges they face and potential solutions to this. This involved monitoring movement of hedgehogs and also looking at where hedgehogs regrettably lost their lives on the roads.
I thought I’d share a few points that stood out to me about movement of hedgehogs. I was already aware that they covered a lot of ground in a night and that males covered more ground than females, but picked up a few more snippets from this session:
- More male hedgehogs are killed on our roads because they travel further looking for food but also looking for mates in mating season (April/May)
- In autumn, more female hedgehogs tend to be killed on roads than males because they are having to forage further to look for food and warm nesting materials after having their litter of autumn juveniles
- July is sadly a high time of year for roadkill as juveniles leave their mums and fend for themselves, frequently crossing roads
- As you’d probably expect, there are more deaths on quieter/regional roads because there are far more hedgehogs living in those more rural areas
- 10pm-1am are the times when most hedgehog movement takes place
- There’s a big problem with isolation caused by all the ongoing building of new houses. This places more and more roads across the green areas where hedgehogs roam reducing their geography. They get isolated within these areas resulting in a reduction in the genetic diversity in that area which is not good
This all seems very doom and gloom and the reduction in habitat is one of the primary causes of reduction in hedgehog numbers.
What can we do to help?
The big thing the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) advocate is getting involved in their amazing Hedgehog Street initiative. You can find information about this on their website here.
There’s loads of great information on the website but one thing they’re eager to get the public involved in is the building of the Hedgehog Map. Whether you see a hedgehog in your garden or your neighbourhood or whether you find one that has been killed, they would like to hear from you.
Building up a map of where there are active hedgehogs and where the main danger spots are can massively help in initiatives around their survival.
You can also become a member of BHPS for a small annual sum (or lifetime membership) and there’s a form on their website found here.
If you’re based in the UK, maybe this bank holiday weekend you could check to see whether hedgehogs can pass between your house and your neighbours’ or perhaps even create a feeding station in your garden. I’ve got a quick reminder of what to feed them below. And remember they need fresh water but not milk as they’re lactose intolerant and it can make them very ill and even kill them.