A regular column from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
When I was small we had a lot of wildlife in our home – a bat roost in my bedroom, crickets and the occasional rabbit visited the playroom and there were a good number of moths and mice which were encouraged back outside from time to time.
But the most memorable was the night a hedgehog wandered in, all snuffly spikiness, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in person.
Somewhere in the family album there’s a photo, testament to our joy at the discovery. Of course, the hedgehog was put back into the garden – a gloriously untidy affair – and wandered off into the countryside beyond.
Coming across a hedgehog is, unfortunately, a rarer treat now. They have declined by 30 per cent in the last ten years alone and there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK.
Some of main reasons for this include the poor quality of our hedgerows and the over-management of parks and gardens – too much tidiness and manicuring.
There’s also the loss of gardens to paving and decking, fewer insect for hedgehogs to eat because of chemical use in gardens and on farmland. Fragmentation of land by roads and fencing also makes it hard for hedgehogs to move around and feed.
On the plus side, there are easy steps we can all take to help these lovable animals. One of the best ways of helping hedgehogs is to create small holes at the bottom of fences – 13cm by 13cm is big enough – which will enable them to move around. Better still, get all your neighbours to do the same.
Bill Oddie, vice-president of The Wildlife Trusts, is one of several high profile supporters backing this year’s Wild About Gardens Week which runs until Sunday.
Ben Fogle, patron of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, suggests we can all have a go at planting a native hedge, creating gaps in fences for them to pass through, leaving leaf or log piles and allowing parts of the garden to grow wild to give them a home.
The RHS and The Wildlife Trusts are hosting a week-long call to action to help the humble hedgehog and there is a website packed with events, competitions and opportunities to get stuck in.
Be inspired by going to www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk
On it you’ll find a downloadable new booklet that will demonstrate steps you can take to help hedgehogs in your garden.