Re­mem­ber hedge­hogs on the 5th

Stockport Express - - Wildlife -

THE worst thing about the Fifth of Novem­ber is the fact that it clashes with the time when a lot of our wildlife is just hun­ker­ing down for win­ter.

Hedge­hogs will be look­ing for some­where to hi­ber­nate, while mice and voles will be slow­ing up their me­tab­o­lisms to cope with the colder tem­per­a­tures.

Sud­denly lots of piles of wood and leaves will look re­ally invit­ing for small mam­mals and frogs and toads. And some bon­fires will have been around for weeks mak­ing them a re­ally safe haven – un­til the first week in Novem­ber.

I still have the stench of the moor­land fires in my nos­trils and the mem­o­ries of tiny an­i­mals and birds running to avoid a hor­ri­ble death. Now I fear we may lose more of our pre­cious crea­tures and our poor hedge­hogs are hav­ing a ter­ri­ble time any­way.

There used to be mil­lions of th­ese won­der­ful spiky crea­tures running around the UK, we be­lieve there are less than 800,000 left. Deaths on roads, pes­ti­cides and the re­moval of hedgerows from the coun­try­side ap­pear to be a ma­jor prob­lem for our hogs’ - bon­fires have been an­other his­toric prob­lem.

In­ter­est­ingly, aware­ness of the hedge­hog’s plight may have led to a small spike in num­bers re­cently. I have cer­tainly been ap­proached by a lot more peo­ple who have seen them in gar­dens and parks.

Even I saw one in my mum’s gar­den in Sal­ford. The dog was nose-to-nose with this in­ter­est­ing crea­ture. I re­moved the dog from the scene and let the hedge­hog wan­der off into mother’s hedge.

Gar­den hedges and aware­ness that th­ese mam­mals need to wan­der be­tween four or five gar­dens to look for grubs and worms may be a boon for them.

Hedge­hog houses and piles of leaves in gar­dens will have also helped. Many peo­ple help out by feed­ing plain cat food and wa­ter to the hogs if they spot them nearby.

They have a rep­u­ta­tion as a gar­dener’s best friend, hap­pily hoover­ing up pesky slugs, so we should cher­ish them.

Liv­ing, on av­er­age, two to three years, they are round, brown and cov­ered in yel­low-tipped spines – they have around 7,000 on their body. When they are not rolled up in a de­fen­sive pose, they will look out with cute faces end­ing in a pretty lit­tle nose.

They hi­ber­nate from Novem­ber to April and their nests of leaves and logs are called a “hi­ber­nac­u­lum”. They may ap­pear on warmer days in win­ter which can cause prob­lems, so that is a good time to pro­vide a bit of food.

You may find hedge­hogs snuf­fling around your gar­den but other signs are medium-sized, black drop­pings, full of in­sect bits, on the lawn.

Imag­ine if we all did our bit to save the hedge­hog. It might just mean go­ing through the leaves and wood un­der your bon­fire be­fore you set it alight this year.

You must make sure any wildlife is out of way be­fore the fun be­gins.

Darin Smith

●●A hedge­hog shuf­fling along a path

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.