Hedgehog Awareness Week.
In his capacity as a celebrity hedgehog ambassador, Henry the Hedgegnome would like to draw your attention to Hedgehog Awareness Week.
Modern times have seen a dramatic boom in the national love affair with our prickly garden companion, which flies in the face of population statistics. Back in the 1970’s, the hedgehog population was estimated to be about 30 million. Many favourites from the 1970’s, such as The Clangers, The Wombles, and Bagpuss have all endured the test of time. Even that fat loveable face of the seventies, the Space Hopper has recently bounced back from near obscurity. Hedgehog numbers, however, have plummeted to about 1 million, and if this rate of decline continues, the hedgehog could be extinct by about 2025.
We all need to be more aware of hedgehogs if we are to avoid losing these lovable and most helpful of creatures.
Henry the Hedgegnome has gathered some facts about them.
A night in the garden.
When it comes to dinner time, Henry the Hedgegnome is a great lover of soup, but hedgehogs are renown for a diet of many things gardeners would like to get rid of. If you have problems with slugs and caterpillars eating your cabbages and hollyhocks, then maybe you should consider encouraging hedgehogs into your garden. Hedgehogs are incredibly noisy eaters, so you will be able to hear them snuffling around the garden and chomping as they devour your garden pests. Whoever it was who said that noisy eaters were a bad thing clearly didn’t consider the benefits of having a hedgehog to protect your vegetable patch.
If you would like to encourage hedgehogs into your garden by feeding them, you should not give them bread and milk. Hedgehogs rarely bake bread in the wild, so it is not a natural food for them. Being omnivorous opportunists, they will eat bread if they find it, but only in the same way that a toddler will eat paint, lipstick and dog poo if they find it. Just because they eat it, it does not mean it will do them any good.
If you want to put food out to attract them, then try tinned dog food, mealworms and a shallow bowl of fresh water.
The eyesight of hedgehogs is rather poor, which is probably why you don’t often see them reading books. They do, however, have very good senses of hearing and smell which they use to hunt their food. Henry the Hedgegnome also has a good sense of hearing, but in his case, it manifests itself in a love of music.
Death on two legs.
During the summer, it is common for hedgehogs to shelter in areas of long grass or piles of leaves. This means they are extremely vulnerable to injury or even death as enthusiastic gardeners go about tidying such areas. Too many hedgehogs come to a nasty end in this manner, so please always check before strimming, slashing, chopping and burning any such areas of vegetation.
Hedgehogs are rather good swimmers, so a pond is not a danger. Unfortunately, once they are in the water, they are not quite as agile as Tom Daley when it comes to getting out. If your pond has steep sides, fit a hedgehog pond ladder. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, as long as it gives them a gentle slope that they can climb to get out of the water.
A cheer for more hedgehogs.
While things are looking tough, all is not lost, and with more awareness there is a chance for hedgehog numbers to recover. Did you know that a group of hedgehogs is called an ‘array‘? Let’s hope that in years to come we can go into the garden and see (or hear) many more of our spiky little friends.
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