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The last Hedgehogs in Nottingham?

Wednesday 10th January

The last Hedgehogs in Nottingham?

As few as 47% of people in Nottingham saw a hedgehog in the last year, compared to 77% in 2015, a survey has found.

Thanks to volunteer Jo Payne, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Attenborough Nature Centre ran a quick census with visitors and Facebook followers over Christmas and New Year about Britain’s favourite mammal, the hedgehog, after a previous Wildlife Trust campaign “Last Hedgehog” found that only one in 5 people in the UK have ever seen a hedgehog in their garden.

Jo spoke with 100 people visiting the centre at Attenborough Nature Reserve over the festive season and ran a Facebook survey with over 600 responses. Visitors to Attenborough Nature Reserve said that it was becoming “far more common to see them as roadkill”. Over 10% of the entire British hedgehog population is killed by traffic each year.

Roads that divide habitats, impenetrable garden fences and the increasing use of garden patios instead of grass has made it difficult for the animals to flourish, as hedgehogs are not able to source food and shelter as gardens are becoming impossible to move between.

According to some Nottingham residents, “people just don’t see them like they used to” even though some locals have engineered their gardens especially for hedgehogs by leaving food out and making mini paths between neighbouring gardens.

Experts have also blamed unusually mild temperatures for the decline in numbers, as many hedgehogs are believed to have mated later in the year. Heather Mee, from Prickly Ball Lodge Hedgehog Rescue, said “for this time of year there are many more hedgehogs coming in than normal, many of which are “too small to hibernate.” One particular juvenile weighed a mere 200 grams – 450 grams under the normal weight required for successful hibernation.

It is estimated that Britain has lost a staggering 95% of its hedgehogs since the 1950s, but Nottingham Wildlife Trust hopes to encourage Nottingham residents to make their gardens hedgehog friendly in a bid to help the species recover.

Hedgehog houses, ensuring garden fences have small gaps in and areas offering shelter and food (such as leaf piles) are just some of the ways people can help hedgehog numbers spike once more. 

According to a spokesperson at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, “given the right conditions hedgehogs can bounce back from adversity”, but a landscape with interconnected wildlife habitats is “absolutely essential” for the population to recover, as it allows them to continue searching for food before hibernation.”

At Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s shops at Attenborough Nature Centre in Beeston and their other visitor centre at Idle Valley near Retford there is a stock of hedgehog related products and specialist food. Hedgehog sightings can also be reported on the Nottinghamshire Mammals website to help keep track of hedgehog numbers and locations in Nottinghamshire. For more information go to the Nottinghamshire Mammals website

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