Today, 2 February, is National Hedgehog Day and this prickly little creature has a close affiliation to Ross-on-Wye, being the symbol of the ancient kingdom of Ergyng (Archenfield) – an area covering the northern part of the AONB, also known as the ‘Land of the Hedgehog’.
The BBC reports that this endangered species in rural Britain continues to decline with numbers down by between 30% and 75% since 2000. Hedgehogs need hedgerows and field margins and the huge loss of this habitat could be driving the decline.
So what can we do to help? According to the Ross-on-Wye Hedgehog Care & Advice there are many things that we can do in our gardens and environments to help:
Mind the gap
Can a hedgehog get in and out of your garden? Hedgehogs travel around 1km a night in search of food, shelter and, in spring and summertime, a mate. To help them do so, make a hole in or under your fence that’s around the size of a CD (12cm2 is ideal).
A garden that is too tidy will not hold much appeal for a hedgehog. Ensure that there is a plenty of cover where they can shelter, make a nest and find food.
Food for thought
In the wild, hedgehogs like to eat beetles, earthworms, caterpillars, grubs, earwigs, millipedes, slugs and snails. By growing plants and creating habitats that support these creatures, you’ll be encouraging hedgehogs too.
Wood you mind?
A pile of leaves, garden clippings or logs will make a safe place for a hedgehog to rest during the day and a cosy nest for the winter months.
A dish of water will be greatly appreciated by passing hedgehogs, especially during dry spells.
A coat made of prickles is handy for keeping predators away but can cause problems when it comes to roaming around our gardens. Hedgehogs often get tangled up in sports nets and those used for covering vegetables, so make sure these are kept raised above ground level.
Hedgehogs are good swimmers and ponds are great places for them to find a meal or a drink, but if your pond has steep sides add a ramp to help hedgehogs climb out.
Hedgehogs are very inquisitive but have poor eyesight. This combination means they can get themselves stuck down open drains or up drainpipes. Please help by covering these up.
Strimmers cause horrible injuries to hedgehogs. Only use them if you absolutely have to and check areas of long grass or thick vegetation really carefully first.
Further information: find out what you can do to help hedgehogs in this delightful film: https://bit.ly/3fXbQbB