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Hedgehog

All about hedgehogs

The hedgehog is probably our most familiar mammal, common in city parks and gardens as well as in the countryside across Britain. Hedgehogs are not only harmless to us, but are also very useful to the gardener, as they eat many garden pests.

What to look for

Hedgehogs can grow up to 30cm long and weigh up to 1900g. They have a sturdy body with short legs and a pointed head with small eyes and rounded ears. They have short, sharp, stiff spines over their back and sides and their underside is covered with dense yellow-brown fur.

Record Your Sightings

Help record the mammals in your garden by letting us know what you see including hedgehogs. Have a look at the 'Where to see' information below to see when is best to spot your local hedgehog.

Did you know?

  • Hedgehogs mainly eat beetles, caterpillars, earthworms and slugs.
  • Many people put out a saucer of bread and milk for them, but this can be harmful as their stomachs cannot digest bread, and cow’s milk is a breeding ground for germs and can cause stomach upsets.
  • A better choice for hedgehogs is tinned dog or cat food (not fishbased), minced meat, chopped liver, or scrambled egg. Dog biscuits, bran and peanuts can be used to supplement their diet and to provide roughage, but sweet foods such as chocolate and fruit should be avoided as they are bad for their teeth.
  • Special hedgehog food is available. The most popular brand is called Spike and is available from Attenborough Nature Centre and the Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre.
  • It is very important to ensure that a supply of fresh water is always available, so why not leave out a saucer of water in your garden?
  • The mating season for hedgehogs is from April until August, with up to 2 litters a year. The female makes a nest of grass, well hidden in the undergrowth and has two to four babies that are born naked, with closed eyes. She suckles them and they grow quickly. They leave the nest after about three weeks and become independent.
  • The hedgehog has about 3,000 spikes by the time it leaves its mother nest. As it gets older it grows more until an average size adult of 600 grams has about 6000.  A very big animal over twice that size might have 7500.  These normally lie flat, but are raised by special muscles in times of danger. The head and legs are also tucked in, making the animal into a spiky ball, protecting it against most predators. Sadly, it is this same response which also results in so many hedgehogs being killed on our roads.

Photo gallery

Hedgehog NottsWT (cpt Darin Smith) Hedgehog NottsWT (cpt Darin Smith) Hedgehog  NottsWT (cpt Steve Plume wwwDOTukwildlifeDOTmeDOTuk) Hedgehog NottsWT (cpt Roy Vickers) Hedgehog NottsWT (cpt Roy Vickers)

Urban WildPlaces - amazing wildlife is closer than you think

More amazing footage from the North East Wildlife Trusts Urban WildPlaces project. Catch an otter relaxing on an urban quay with traffic speeding past, a badger sett in the dead of night,  hedghogs and foxes, and a curious otter in an urban back garden.

The film was taken as part of the North East Wildlife Trusts WildPlaces project, aiming to raise awareness of urban wildlife. If you like this film…

 

The Wildlife Garden Project - How to help hedgehogs in your garden

wildlifegardenproject.com The Wildlife Garden Project shows you how to help hedgehogs in your garden. Hedgehogs are in decline in the UK, but this video shows you a few simple things you can do to help our prickly friends. Always remember to provide hedgehogs with fresh water. About The Wildlife Garden Project Imagine if everybody in the UK made just a few small changes in their garden to help our British…

 

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Hedgehog Printable Factsheet

Status

In recent years there have been sharp declines in the number of hedgehogs in parts of Britain.  There are many reasons for this decline including hedgerow loss, the reduction of suitable grasslands and modern agricultural methods.  In more urban areas our gardens have become less hedgehog friendly and have barriers which prevent them moving from garden to garden.  In Nottinghamshire our garden mammal survey has been used by many people to report that it's several years since they have seen a hedgehog.

Habitats

Hedgehogs are common to fields, hedgerows, woods and gardens.
 

Where to see

Hedgehogs are mainly active at dusk and at night and are normally only seen from May until October. They hibernate during winter because there is little food available during that time, hiding under logs and piles of leaves. Hedgehogs are normally solitary creatures, but females with young may be seen in summer. Hedgehogs can run surprisingly quickly if frightened. They will also roll up into a ball when there is danger; this presents the sharp spines to any attacking animal and is normally a very good defence.

 

Protecting Wildlife for the Future