We can do more to save endangered hedgehogs, says Ipswich expert
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Hedgehogs are now the eighth most endangered animal species in the UK, a list published in Countryfile magazine has shown today.
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust has estimated that as many as 50% have been lost in the past two decades, while in urban areas, up to a third of populations have been lost between 2000 and 2014.
However, there are things we can all do to help boost the numbers of hedgehogs in our gardens, says Ipswich hedgehog expert, Julie Moore.
“The trouble is, there’s not enough holes in fences, particularly in the new builds,” she explains. “A lot of people like manicured gardens, with proper bedding all neatly done, but that is not a hedgehog’s world.
“The main thing is getting from garden to garden. People say, what, cut a hole in my new fence and have a hedgehog scrap about? But hedgehogs walk two to three miles a night, so they need to get from garden to garden.
“If they’re stuck in a garden, they’re not able to do what they naturally should be doing – mating with other hedgehogs to make the population grow."
Julie runs her own charity, Great Hogmond Street, where she cares for sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs.
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The Suffolk Wildlife Trust has been eager to boost the hedgehog population for some time, launching a project to make Ipswich the most hedgehog-friendly in the UK in 2016 with help from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Their efforts, they say, have left a “legacy of hedgehog champions” who are ensuring that the “hedgehog highways” (holes in fences) remain open, and wild areas where they can build habitats are maintained.
The Suffolk Prickles Hedgehog Rescue in Earl Stonham also recently launched an appeal for newspapers, which they use to help provide winter homes for hedgehogs that have been unable to hibernate.
To help the hedgehogs where you live, Julie says to “just encourage them in your garden. You can make little hedgehog houses or buy them cheap enough online. You could have a plastic box with a hole cut in and a dish of food.
“As long as they can come and go, they’ll love it. I always think, if you’ve got a hedgehog in your garden, you are so privileged and you’re doing it right.”