Hedgehogs in your garden

You can do your bit to help hedgehogs by installing a Hedgehog Highway Surround in your garden. A Hedgehog Highway Surround is a 5 inch lined gap in a fence or wall allowing access for hedgehogs. These gaps are essential in the battle to prevent the extinction of our endangered spiky friends, especially if your garden has solid fencing all around it, and borders other gardens or farmland. 

Hedgehogs have been in severe decline for many years, and the Hedgehog Highways allow hedgehogs to forage for food, to meet mates to breed, and to access nesting sites.

They also raise awareness of hedgehogs’ struggle for survival and create a talking point, encouraging others to create a highway of their own and take part in the project.

Money from the sale of every Hedgehog Highway Surround is donated to help the rescue of sick and injured hedgehogs.  Anyone can buy one, for £3, from Spurstow Parish Council; contact Katherine Hutchinson, chair@spurstow.org.uk – they have purchased 50 for this purpose.

Did you know?

There are between 5,000 and 7,000 spines on an average adult hedgehog.

Hedgehogs can climb very well. Obstacles such as stone-faced earth banks and even small garden brick walls are easy going for them, but taller walls and solid fences are impassable for them.

In milder parts of the UK, instances of pregnancy reach a peak between May and July, and then again in September. The later breeding attempts make them vulnerable to losses over winter.

They also eat reptiles, particularly juvenile snakes – hedgehogs are highly resistant to adder venom! A protein called erinacin in the hedgehog’s muscular system prevents a blood haemorrhage if bitten by an adder, should they accidentally disturb one during their nocturnal activities.

While defending their territories, hedgehogs emit snorts, squeals and grunts – just like pigs – hence the ‘hog’ part of their name. Shakespeare mentions hedgehogs in The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream as ‘hedgepigs’ and ‘urchins’ due to their spiny exterior.

Other hedgehog superpowers include their super speed – they can run at speeds of up to six feet per second – that’s four miles an hour, which is pretty impressive for their size!

Hedgehogs have the ability to camouflage themselves from predators by licking certain objects or food until a frothy saliva forms, then rubbing it onto their skin and spines, which is believed to make them smell less palatable.

Hedgehogs are omnivores and make the most of the countryside larder with a diet that includes insects, berries, birds’ eggs, mushrooms, mice and amphibians.

A hedgehog’s behavioural response to perceived threat (especially noise) is to roll into a ball, which unfortunately offers very little protection against the cars and lorries on our roads and strimmers in our gardens.

Hedgehogs, along with dormice and bats, are the only British mammals that hibernate, although they may become active during mild winter periods.

Much like humans and their milk teeth, young hedgehogs outgrow their baby spines, which are gradually replaced by adult ones as they develop.

Hedgehogs have recently been voted Britain’s favourite wild animal and interest in them and their protection has never been higher.