Hedgehogs After Dark - the campaign to discover the hidden lives of hedgehogs
PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 June 2020
Sarah Rodi spoke to Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Officer at Hedgehog Street, about their new campaign to halt the decline in our native hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are in trouble. The latest State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report revealed that 50% of rural hedgehog populations and 30% of urban hedgehog populations have been lost since 2000. “Barriers between gardens in urban areas and loss of hedgerows, the intensification of agriculture and the use of pesticides in rural areas are just some of the factors contributing to this decline,” says Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street, a nationwide campaign set up by wildlife charities the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species to halt the ongoing decline in native hedgehogs.
Learning more about the hidden lives of hedgehogs could really help this species. “This is why we have launched ‘Hedgehogs After Dark’ this summer, which will run until 26 July 2020,” says Grace.
“We know gardens are vital habitats for hedgehogs, but we’d like to understand exactly how hedgehogs are using them. To do this, we need the public’s help to tell us about any behaviours they spot.”
Hedgehogs After Dark is asking you to carefully observe hedgehogs at a distance in the evenings in your gardens, recording all the different behaviours you see. So if, at dusk and after dark, you spot behaviours such as feeding or drinking; travelling across a garden (or even better, using a Hedgehog Highway); swimming in a pond; mating; grooming or nesting, Hedgehog Street wants to hear about it!
“We have been planning this campaign for a while,” says Grace. “But lockdown is giving people the opportunity to engage with nature in their own back gardens. This time at home is allowing us chance to watch, connect with and help wildlife, so if you’re lucky enough to see a hedgehog in your garden, we’d love to find out what he or she is up to!”
“‘In Berkshire, we tend to get more sightings around major towns, such as Windsor and Newbury,” says Grace.
Hedgehog Street is also encouraging people to make small hedgehog-friendly changes to their own gardens, which could make all the difference.
Here are some ways you can help
1. Make a small hole in your fence to connect your garden with your neighbours’ garden.
2. Leave patches of nesting materials, such as leaves and twigs, or provide a hedgehog house.
3. Put out supplementary food and water. You can replicate their natural diet by providing meat-based dog and cat food, hedgehog food or cat biscuits.
4. Record all sightings (alive or dead) on the BIG Hedgehog Map.
5. Become a Hedgehog Champion.
Hedgehog Champions are members of the public who have pledged to help hedgehogs by making small changes to their gardens.
“To date, over 78,000 Hedgehog Champions across the UK have registered to help,” says Grace. “But we are always trying to reach new audiences and we’d love for you to get involved and help us.”