It’s hedgehog awareness week and one of our oldest living mammals is in dire need of your help!

I’m hoping to persuade councils, developers and members of the public to be more aware of our spiky ‘garden friend’ who may be nesting in gardens, hedgerows and under sheds. If successful, your company will go on the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s honours list of ‘Hedgehog Heroes’ on their website.

I run ‘The Hedgehog Hotel’ which is a native British hedgehog rescue and rehabilitation centre which is based in Dipton near Consett. We run solely on donations from the public and I recently released 13 overwintered hogs back to the wild.

I’m a registered carer with the BHPS (British hedgehog preservation society) with the basic ‘first aid care and rehabilitation of hedgehog’ certificate by the Vale wildlife hospital and rehabilitation centre.

I work closely with a network of hedgehog carers in Durham and the surrounding areas and between us, we save hundreds upon hundreds of hedgehogs each year.

We take our advice and instruction from the BHPS and the Vale wildlife hospital as well as working closely with veterinary practices up and down the country. My practice is Prince Bishops Vets in Leadgate who are truly amazing helping me help return big fat healthy hedgehogs back to the wild.

This is where I hope I can persuade local councils, developers and members of the public to join in. Hedgehogs have seen a huge decline over the past couple of decades. This is mainly due to more roads and traffic and fencing off gardens. Sadly, we are constantly admitting severely injured hedgehogs with life-threatening injuries. Most injuries are either RTA’s, dog attacks or gardening injuries in particular strimmers and mowers.

The BHPS has recently given us some stickers which we want to give out to councils and developers to raise awareness.

These stickers will hopefully remind the user to do a simple five-minute check around hedges etc for wildlife before operating strimmers and gardening equipment. In turn, this will save thousands of our spiky friends who are very much in decline as a species.

If we don’t raise awareness our garden friends will soon be on the endangered list. I have pre-ordered these stickers from the BHPS and I’m hoping this article will encourage councils to get onboard. The BHPS will add you to their ‘Hedgehog heroes board’ on their website which is fabulous publicity for any council or developer.

I would love to encourage people to make ‘Hedgehog highways’ to their gardens to allow hedgehogs the freedom to roam. A simple CD sized hole in your garden fence will help enormously. Leaving a shallow bowl of water and some dried complete cat biscuits will encourage these loveable visitors to your garden.

If you are leaving food please no milk (they are lactose intolerant) and no mealworms. Mealworms have been proven to cause metabolic bone disease (MBD) which leaches calcium from their bones. They don’t need much to be happy but they do need our help! If you want to do all you can to help, you could make a simple feeding station and either buy or make a nesting box for them.

There are lots of relatively cheap feedings stations and nesting box ideas available online. There is a wealth of information available on ‘The Hedgehog Hotel’ on Facebook page. Please also consider leaving areas of your garden untouched/wild with scattered log piles and insect homes to help encourage spiky visitors to your garden. We have a real chance to make a difference and help them but we need to act now.

Submitted by: Jacqui Clarke

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