The 6th – 12th May 2018 is Hedgehog Awareness Week.
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is urging everyone to “Think Hedgehog” and help support this much loved British mammal which is in decline.
Most hedgehogs have come out of hibernation now and are actively seeking partners and mating. It won’t be long before the first litter of urchins (baby hedgehogs) are born.
Spring is a time when traditionally many people get out into their garden and start strimming, cutting back vegetation and tidying up after the winter. “We are urging people when in their gardens to THINK HEDGEHOG. So if you are digging into compost, or clearing away piles of leaves or taking up a shed or clearing out a green house, then please be careful and think about whether there is a hedgehog hiding away where you are working. Every year we see hedgehogs with horrendous injuries where they have been caught by strimmers, lawn mowers or garden spades and forks, so please be careful and check the area before working” said Trevor Weeks MBE founder of East Sussex WRAS.
WRAS deals with over 450 hedgehogs every year and the number is increasing. However the number of hedgehogs nationally has decreased by up to a third since 2000.
“New fences can be a death sentence for many hedgehogs and entire populations can disappear as a result of just one person erecting a new fence. This can be avoided if people ensure they leave a CD size hole so hedgehogs can still wander from garden to garden” said Trevor.
There has been a lot in the news recently about plastics floating around at sea, but on land, hedgehogs often get caught in plastic beer can rings dropped in the streets or parks. “Plastic beer can rings can cause significant injuries and immense suffering. We even had one baby hedgehog found caught in the loop of a Christmas bauble. Elastic rubber bands can get caught round hedgehogs too. I often see them on the pavement whilst out running. I stop and pick them up” said Trevor.
The myth of feeding hedgehogs bread and milk has been proven to be dangerous for hedgehogs. “If you want to feed hedgehogs anything they are best given just water and cat food, but avoid fish flavoured food. Also avoid large piles of dried meal worms as this is a bit like giving hedgehogs sweats! Too much is not a good thing. A good mixture of cat food, dried meal worms, hedgehog or cat biscuits is good. You can even get seed, fruit and insect mixes specially designed for hedgehogs too” said Trevor.
A hedgehog’s diet in the wild is very varied. They primarily eat insects, caterpillars and fruits. Slugs and snails only make up a small part of their diet and can pass on harmful parasites to hedgehogs too.
Recently WRAS dealt with a hedgehog caught in a rodent trap in Rye Close Polegate. “If you are setting traps for rodents it is a legal requirement to place them in a location where no other species can be harmed. Hedgehogs are particularly susceptible to being caught in such traps and are best not used at all” said Trevor.
“Even common chemicals placed around gardens can have a knock on effect to hedgehogs especially if they are pregnant, so be very careful using anything poisonous in your garden. Copper tape can prevent slugs climbing into flower pots. Slugs struggle to cross sharp sand and fine power like ash from a fire in order to get to plants” added Trevor.
“We want to urge people to be understanding and live with nature in their gardens, and respect the fact that we share this planet with millions of other creatures who have as much right to be here as we do. It will be a sad day when there are no more hedgehogs left in Britain, but hopefully if we take action now and start thinking about how we can live with them we can stop the decline from occurring” said Trevor.
As part of Hedgehogs Awareness Week East Sussex WRAS has a window display at the Uckfield Volunteer Bureau in Uckfield High Street, with lots of information. WRAS’s founder Trevor Weeks and Lead Casualty Manager Chris Riddington are also raising money for WRAS’s hedgehogs work by running the Barcombe 10K on Monday 7th May too. Donations towards the run and WRAS’s Hedgehog work can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HedgehogAwareness
For media interviews please contact Trevor Weeks on 01825-873003 or 07931523958.