With the last episode of the epic Planet Earth II airing only a few weeks ago, few words could be more powerful than those spoken by Sir David Attenborough, as he reflected: “It is our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us but all life on Earth."
We may not have the funds or facilities to build forests on skyscrapers (although that would be pretty amazing), but each of us has the power to make a difference. Take the humble hedgehog. Urbanization is one of the contributing factors to habitat loss. As a result, their numbers have fallen by 30% in the last 10 years and there are now less than 1 million in the UK, down from 36 million in the 1950's.
We may be part of the problem, but we can also be part of the solution. Luckily, there are some simple things that we can all do to help:
1. Hedgehog Highways
Hedgehogs can travel up to a mile every night in search of food and a mate. With so many enclosed gardens, we are stopping them from finding each other (and a good meal)! By cutting a small hedgehog hole in our fences (13cm2) or digging a channel for them to pass through, you can create a “hedgehog highway” to help them on their way. Visit hedgehogstreet.org for more information, or to record your hedgehog hole.
2. Hedgehog Homes and Nesting Sites
A clean and tidy garden may be aesthetically pleasing, but too much tidying may mean that we are throwing away the elements of a warm and cosy hedgehog home. Pile logs or fallen leaves in quiet corners of your garden to create safe and secure places for hedgehogs to rest, breed and hibernate.
3. Cover Drains and Holes
Whilst they may look sweet, hedgehogs have poor eyesight and a curious nature; they can get themselves into sticky situations. Cover up open drains and holes so they can’t fall in and get stuck. Placing some stones or a gently sloping edge at the side of a pond can create an access point for any inquisitive hedgehogs who may fall in and struggle to get back out.
4. "Forget" to Mow the Lawn - Creating Hedgehog Friendly Gardens
Hedgehogs consume up to 1000 slugs, snails and worms every night, so no need for poisonous slug pellets that could cause them harm! In fact, why not attract more of them by growing a diverse range of plants that will create the perfect habitat for the slimy hedgehog food. Allowing grass to grow a little longer can provide a great home for beetles and other prey.
5. Don’t Be a Litter Bug
Every year hedgehogs become injured by litter, or trapped in discarded rubbish and starve to death. Disposing of rubbish responsibly can prevent this from happening. In fact, rubbish can cause massive problems for all kinds of creatures.
• Crush/pinch cans shut
• Cut containers in half
• Tie a knot in plastic bags before disposing, this will stop animals climbing inside (and suffocating) or eating them (and choking)
By making small changes, together, we can make a big difference and help save these remarkable creatures.
An article by Beth Drew