Cre­ate a home for a hedge­hog

THE SUM­MER HOL­I­DAYS ARE A GREAT CHANCE TO HELP LO­CAL WILDLIFE

Uxbridge Gazette - - Wild Life -

SCHOOL’S out for the sum­mer, and for those now at home what bet­ter way to spend a sunny af­ter­noon than by cre­at­ing your own hedge­hog house, to help the na­tion’s favourite mam­mal from fur­ther de­cline, es­pe­cially dur­ing the cur­rent heatwave.

The Hedge­hog Street team – run by wildlife char­i­ties the Bri­tish Hedge­hog Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety (BHPS) and Peo­ple’s Trust for En­dan­gered Species (PTES) – is urg­ing peo­ple to help hedge­hogs by build­ing them the per­fect home, pro­vid­ing a safe haven that’s cool, cosy and com­fort­able dur­ing this un­usual sum­mer weather.

Last year, Hedge­hog Street launched the first ever Hedge­hog Hous­ing Cen­sus, which looked at how, when and why hedge­hogs use ei­ther home­made or ar­ti­fi­cial hedge­hog houses in gar­dens across Bri­tain. Be­tween Au­gust and Oc­to­ber 2017, over 5,000 peo­ple re­sponded to the Hedge­hog Hous­ing Cen­sus, and now, a year on, the se­crets be­hind what makes a per­fect hedge­hog home have been re­vealed. The re­sults, an­a­lysed by the Univer­sity of Read­ing, show that:

Hedge­hogs pre­fer home­made houses, but ar­ti­fi­cial houses are still a good al­ter­na­tive if they have the right fea­tures

Hedge­hogs need time to get used to a new house be­fore they use it Feed­ing hedge­hogs, putting wa­ter in your gar­den & pro­vid­ing bed­ding (such as dry leaves, pet straw or both) in­creases the chances of a res­i­dent hedge­hog mov­ing in

Hedge­hogs pre­fer houses found in back gar­dens, in shaded ar­eas.

Pets or bad­gers don’t ap­pear to put off a ‘hog from mov­ing in

Build­ing your own hedge­hog home is a fun and easy to do. To down­load a PDF with sim­ple in­struc­tions on how to build two dif­fer­ent types of hedge­hog house, visit: www.hedge­hogstreet.org/ hous­ing-cen­sus.

In­ter­est­ingly, the re­sults also showed that houses po­si­tioned close (less than five me­ters) to the home­own­ers’ house are most fre­quently used, in­di­cat­ing that hedge­hogs have be­come ac­cus­tomed to hu­man ac­tiv­ity.

Also, of those who re­sponded to the ques­tions about us­age for day­time rest­ing and hi­ber­na­tion, 81% found ev­i­dence that their hedge­hog house was used for rest­ing dur­ing sum­mer day­time, 59% noted that it was used for hi­ber­na­tion dur­ing win­ter months and 28% said it was used for breed­ing.

Emily Wil­son, hedge­hog of­fi­cer for Hedge­hog Street ex­plains: “Un­til now we didn’t know what type of hedge­hog house was best for hedge­hogs and if they were even re­ally used at all, as this area of hedge­hog ecol­ogy sim­ply hadn’t been stud­ied. These re­sults tell us that hedge­hog houses are help­ing ‘hogs find a place to rest, hi­ber­nate and even breed. We can use these re­sults to help con­serve these an­i­mals and give the most ac­cu­rate ad­vice to any­one want­ing to pro­vide shel­ter for wild hedge­hogs through our Hedge­hog Street cam­paign.”

Emily con­tin­ues: “It’s in­ter­est­ing to see that hedge­hogs seem to pre­fer houses that have been in a gar­den for some time, but we hope that peo­ple won’t be dis­heart­ened if they have a newer hedge­hog house, it just means hedge­hogs need a lit­tle time to get used to it. If hedge­hogs are pro­vided with food and wa­ter in the gar­den (es­pe­cially dur­ing this un­usu­ally hot weather), and the cor­rect bed­ding in the house, this re­ally en­cour­ages hedge­hogs into your area, and they could be­come reg­u­lar night-time vis­i­tors.”

Abi­gail Gaz­zard, post­grad­u­ate re­searcher for the Univer­sity of Read­ing adds: “Fur­ther anal­y­sis is re­quired to in­ves­ti­gate why hedge­hogs seem to pre­fer home­made houses to ar­ti­fi­cial ones. This could be to do with the type of ma­te­ri­als they are made from, its phys­i­cal size, or whether it has other fea­tures such as tun­nels and in­ter­nal par­ti­tions, so the next step for us is to look into this as­pect specif­i­cally.”

Emily con­cludes: “Thanks to these re­sults an­a­lysed by the Univer­sity of Read­ing, we now bet­ter un­der­stand what a hedge­hog is look­ing for in a per­fect home, so we hope ex­ist­ing Hedge­hog Cham­pi­ons and those who aren’t yet cham­pi­ons, con­sider en­cour­ag­ing hedge­hogs in gar­dens across Bri­tain by build­ing and in­tro­duc­ing your own hedge­hog houses.”

PHOTO: SEAN HANSFORD

PHOTO: AN­DREW MIL­LI­GAN/PA WIRE

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