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Hedgehog in the woodland

Be a hedgehog hero

Hedgehogs are disappearing at an alarming rate but there’s plenty you can do to give them a helping hand

They may not be cuddly but they are seriously cute. Hedgehogs are one of Britain’s most beloved wild animals – and a real hit with slug-chasing gardeners! But their numbers are rapidly declining. Back in the 1950s, there were estimated to be around 30 million throughout England, Scotland and Wales – compared to just one million today.

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Close-up of hedgehog

A prickly problem

It’s hard to know exactly what’s caused such a sharp drop in the hedgehog population. Perhaps intensive farming and a reduction in hedgerows has played a part, or maybe our garden walls and fences are making it hard for hedgehogs to roam? It could be that a lack of food has attributed to their downfall – or a combination of all these factors.

Creatures of habit, hedgehogs usually hibernate between November and March. Before they tuck themselves in, they need to build up enough fat reserves to keep them going throughout the winter – when they might lose up to a third of their body weight! As the weather warms up, they emerge, ready to feed themselves up again in preparation to start a family. Without enough reserves, hedgehogs will wake up from their state of torpor early, needing to search for food to stay alive.

Spike's Hedgehog food products

Spike’s Hedgehog Food

Hedgehogs are partial to a little bit of cooked chicken breast, but to ensure they stay healthy, it’s better to feed them a specialist food such as Spike’s Crunchy Dry, Semi-Moist or Meaty Feast. This ensures a balanced diet and all the nutrients hedgehogs need. Alternatively, why not try the new Spike’s Bundle Starter Kit with a range of tasty favourites that will have your garden visitors coming back night after night.

Exclusive offer for Countryfile readers!

Get 20% off when you buy online and enter code CF20 at the checkout.


Help our hedgehogs

The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to help these little hogs thrive and survive.

Leave part of your garden to grow wild. Hedges with natural undergrowth, wildflowers and rockeries will encourage wildlife into your garden and provide an abundant food source.

One of the most important things you can do is create ‘hedgehog highways’ to link the gardens in your neighbourhood. Just make a small, cd-size hole at the bottom of your fence or wall to allow the little brown creatures to roam freely in search of food.

Chemical pesticides can kill hedgehogs so whenever possible, use natural alternatives such as copper tape, coffee grounds or eggshell.

Ensure swimming pools and garden ponds have a graduated side or overhanging chicken wire so that hedgehogs can scramble out.

If you find a poorly or injured hedgehog, place it in a box with an old towel and a wrapped-up hot water bottle, then contact your nearest hedgehog or wildlife rescue centre.

Leave out suitable food, such as specialist hedgehog food, or chicken-based cat food all year round. And don’t forget to put out a shallow dish of water too.

Hedgehog eating from bowl

Another reason to buy

10p from every bag of Spike’s Hedgehog Food sold will go to Amazing Grace, Dr Brian May’s Save Me Trust campaign, dedicated to educating the public and saving our spiny friends from extinction.

T&Cs This coupon may be used for 20% off your next purchase of Spike’s Hedgehog Food when entering code CF20 at checkout on Code must be entered at the time of purchase and can only be used once. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer, promotion or discount. Valid from 01/09/2019 until 30/11/2019.