Why Do Hedgehogs Need Protecting
In just under two years, British hedgehogs could be extinct. For the first time, they have been added to the endangered species list and as they go into hibernation, they put themselves at even more risk from the elements and predators. So we need to protect them at all costs.
Introducing... the world's first hedgehog hibernation holiday park here at Parkdean Resorts.
What started as a local initiative at White Cross Bay Holiday Park in the Lake District, now expands nationwide as a message to bring hope for hedgehogs. The world's first hibernation holiday park for hedgehogs was designed to encourage the nation to create safe and snug homes for hedgehogs to rest their heads and hibernate. Complete with French doors, quaint bunting, picturesque seating and plants, the Hedgehog Holiday Park sits next to, and takes inspiration from, local Parkdean Resorts caravan parks.
Saving Endangered Hedgehogs this Autumn
It’s estimated that the population of British hedgehogs has fallen from around 30 million in the 1950s to 500,000 in 2018. That’s a 98% decrease in numbers in 68 years. If the current rate of decline continues, hedgehogs could be extinct in less than two years. With dangerous roads, the use of pesticides, urbanisation and loss of habitat all hindering the wholesome hedgehogs’ chance of finding a safe space to hibernate through the winter season.
If hedgehogs are unable to find a safe place to hibernate they are left at their most vulnerable. At risk from the elements and accidents such as foot and vehicle traffic, as well as predators. Bonfires are another big risk for hedgehogs in autumn because, to our prickly pals, unlit bonfires seem like the perfect snug spot to bed down.
Katy South, co-founder of Prickles and Paws, a rescue and rehabilitation centre for hedgehogs, advises:
“Bonfires are usually fairly dry at the centre which, for a hedgehog looking for a warm, dry and sheltered spot, can seem like ideal places to nest. It’s therefore very important to make sure there are no hedgehogs hiding in a bonfire before it is lit.
The best way to do this is by moving it on the day of lighting, but simply disturbing a bonfire before lighting it is very unlikely to result in the hedgehog leaving. This is because a hibernating hedgehog can take eight hours or more to warm and wake enough to be mobile and able to move out of danger. If a hedgehog is not yet hibernating, their defence is to curl into a tight ball, which also leaves them unable to move out of danger.
Therefore moving a bonfire on the day of lighting will allow you to spot, and carefully move, any hedgehogs that may be hiding at its centre. It’s also good practice to light a bonfire from one side after moving it, as this will leave safe exits to allow any other wildlife to escape in plenty of time.”
We need to prioritise protecting hedgehogs now, before it’s too late. Before, during and after hibernation we need to consider making safe spaces for our spiky friends. From what pesticides we use on our gardens, to making sure safe and healthy habitats remain for them to snuggle up in come November time.
We are now encouraging the nation to create their own hibernation homes in their gardens to keep hedgehogs safe all winter long.
How Can You Help Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs hibernate from November to April, so if you are inspired by our Hedgehog Holiday Park then you too can make a difference at home by...
- Creating your own hibernation hog hotel
- Leaving piles of leaves and logs in your garden
- Making ponds safe with a ramp for them to climb out
- Checking long grass before mowing or strimming
- Not using slug pellets or harmful pesticides
- Having a hedgehog feeding station with water and meaty dog or cat food
- Creating hedgehog highways
Hedgehog Highways & DIY Hibernation Boxes
Hedgehog highways and DIY hibernation boxes are an amazing and simple way to create a safe space for your local wildlife.
Cutting a small hole in your garden fence around 13cm by 13cm allows hedgehogs to move safely between gardens and reduces the risk of them venturing into roads and traffic. A neighbourhood network of hedgehog highways also makes the perfect setup for hog spotting!
DIY Hedgehog Hibernation Boxes
You can encourage safe hedgehog hibernation by building a DIY hedgehog hibernation box in your garden. This will create a safe place for our prickly friends to eat, rest and then hibernate.
If building a hibernation box isn’t feasible, then remember making a pile of logs and leaves can provide a good space for a hedgehog to nest and also attract lots of insects for them to nibble on in the lead up to hibernation.
What to do if you find a hedgehog in need
We’ve worked closely with hedgehog sanctuary, Prickles and Paws who advise that if you find a hedgehog in any of the states below then you should contact your local hedgehog rescue:
- Out during the day or during winter
- A little bit wobbly or staggering
- Trapped, surrounded by flies, lethargic or injured
- Small for the time of year or a baby hoglet without others
Whilst waiting for the rescue centre you can use gardening gloves or a folded towel to pick the hedgehog up and put it in a high sided box. Scrunch up newspaper or a towel in the bottom of the box and keep it inside, away from pets and children. Leave the hedgehog alone as much as possible aside from first aid.
Leave it a small amount of water as well as meaty cat or dog food. Do not force feed the hedgehog.
If getting back to nature has brought out the green fingers in your family, then don’t forget to get stuck in and explore at Parkdean Resorts. Whether you are joining us for a family holiday this autumn or are ready for the Bear Grylls Survival Academy - we are holiday goals!
Have you had a go at helping out our prickly pals at home? Share the pictures with us on our Facebook page!
*No wild hedgehogs were used in the making of this video. The lovely Flower is a native European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) who was found trapped under a fence and was brought into the care of Ark Animal Rescue Centre. On arriving at the centre, staff found out she had been raised in captivity and knew it would not be safe to release her into the wild. She now lives at Ark Animal Rescue Centre where she receives the best care and occasionally appears in conservation awareness videos like this one.