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Hedgehog

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Information

Hedgehogs are one of the UK’s most loved garden dwellers, famously being unmistakable due to their spiky exterior. However, sightings are becoming less common as their habitat continues to reduce and their numbers decline.

Hedgehogs are small, solitary, nocturnal mammals. They have very good hearing and an impressive sense of smell, but fairly poor eyesight. They are capable of climbing, running and even swimming! The hedgehog is facing a number of challenges though:
  • Intensive farming has reduced the hedgehog’s rural habitat, so urban areas and gardens are now vital for their survival.

  • Their food source, primarily earthworms and insects, is diminishing due to an increase in hard surfaces and pesticide use in urban areas.

  • Reduced connectivity between gardens and other habitats restricts the movement of hedgehogs when they are in search of food, mates and shelter.

When under threat, hedgehogs roll up into a tight ball and use their spines as protection against predators. This can be useful protection from other animals, but it can mean they fall victim to cars on roads, as they stop and roll up in defence instead of running away.

  • European Hedgehog eating orange mushrooms
  • Hedgehog foraging in the garden
  • Hedgehog in garden with children
  • Young Hedgehog
  • European Hedgehog eating orange mushrooms
  • Hedgehog foraging in the garden
  • Hedgehog in garden with children
  • Young Hedgehog

37% of children have never seen a hedgehog.

HOW CAN I HELP?

Urban gardens in towns and cities can provide refuge for these little mammals. Managed properly, they can offer hedgehogs enough food and shelter to help boost population numbers, especially when connected to other garden to increase the space.


Naturespace actions you can take
  • Provide wildlife housing

    Find out how to build a hedgehog house for your Naturespace
  • Create wildlife passageways

    Make gaps in your fence to help connect habitats for hedgehogs
  • Leave your leaves, pile up logs and start composting

    Provide hedgehogs with a place to hibernate over winter
  • Put away the pesticides

    Find eco-friendly ways to look after your Naturespace
  • Pull up your paving

    Offer more green space for hedgehogs to forage
Hedgehog

Vital Statistics

Scientific name: Erinaceus europaeus

Weight: up to 1.2kg
Length: up to 30cm
Spines: up to 7,000, each 2-3cm long

Hedgehog

Habitat & Diet

Urban and suburban gardens, parks and churchyards are vitally important hedgehog habitats, as they now utilise these areas more than rural farmland habitats.

The home range of a hedgehog is between 10 and 20 hectares, which is the same size as 10 to 20 rugby pitches! Hedgehogs are active at night and can travel up to two kilometres each night to search for food.

They forage on insects, worms, slugs and snails by rooting around in the undergrowth and in hedgerows. During the daytime and throughout hibernation, hedgehogs shelter in nests made of leaves, grass and moss. These can be under bushes, hedges, sheds, unlit bonfires, or in man-made hedgehog houses.

Hedgehog

Breeding

Hedgehog mating season begins in May. The mating ritual of the hedgehog involves the male circling the female whilst making snorting noises. The female is pregnant for around four and a half weeks, and on average gives birth to four or five hoglets.

The hoglets stay with their mother for six to eight weeks before becoming independent and solitary. Sometimes hoglets are born later in the season. These later autumn juveniles may not survive winter, as they struggle to gain the weight required for successful hibernation.

Help Support the Hedgehog

©Earthwatch 2018  

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Unless otherwise credited, all illustrations © Chris Shields, and all wildlife photographs © Steven Falk
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