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Hedgehog Awareness Week | Celebrating UK's Iconic Wild Animal


a hedgehog in grass

Welcome to Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, where every creature, no matter how small or prickly, finds care and compassion in their hour of need. As we embrace the arrival of spring, we are reminded of the wonderful diversity of wildlife that graces our countryside. Among the many beloved species is the hedgehog, which stands out as an iconic symbol of British wildlife. As we celebrate Hedgehog Awareness Week in May, we invite you to find out more about these delightful spiky creatures and how we can help protect them.


WHY DO HEDGEHOGS MATTER?


Hedgehogs may seem like whimsical creatures, with their endearing snuffling and adorable waddling, but they play a vital role in our ecosystem. As natural gardeners, they help keep insect populations in natural check. Their natural diet consists of beetles, caterpillars, and other invertebrates, contributing to a balanced ecosystem.


However, as the use of chemical pesticides increases the number of insects decline and in turn hedgehogs natural food sources deplete. This makes it difficult for hedgehogs to find a sustainable food source or drives them into urban areas where they can run into dangers with human activities. Hedgehog populations have been in decline in recent years due various factors, including habitat loss, fragmentation, and climate change


Hedgehogs are in decline in Britain and are now listed as "Vulnerable" on Britain's red list of mammals. According to the latest State of Britain's hedgehogs report, numbers of hedgehogs have fallen by up to 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas since the Millennium.

 
A HEDGEHOG IN GRASS

THE IMPORTANCE OF HEDGEHOG AWARNESS


Hedgehog Awareness Week, organised annually by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of conserving hedgehog populations. It's a time for communities, conservationists, and wildlife enthusiasts to come together to raise awareness about the plight of hedgehogs and what we can do to help them thrive.


At Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, we are passionate about hedgehog conservation. Throughout Hedgehog Awareness Week, consider implementing some simple changes or adopting initiatives to support hedgehogs. From creating hedgehog walkways, to supporting the work at Brent Lodge, there are many simple steps we can take to support these delightful creatures.


3 little hedgehogs eating hedgehog food from a bowl

HELPING HEDGEHOGS


At Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, we're deeply committed to the conservation of hedgehogs and all wildlife. During Hedgehog Awareness Week and throughout the year, our dedicated team works tirelessly to provide expert care and rehabilitation to injured and orphaned hedgehogs. From administering life-saving treatments to offering a safe haven for recovery, we strive to give every hedgehog the best possible chance at survival.


But our work doesn't stop there. We're also actively involved in community outreach and education initiatives, raising awareness about the importance of hedgehog conservation and providing practical tips on how individuals can help. Through workshops, talks, and social media campaigns, we empower people of all ages to take action and make a positive impact on hedgehog populations.


 

a hedgehog with a strimmer injury to his hedgehog. It has been stitched up

At Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, we treat over 500 hedgehog admissions, driven by various factors:

  1. Strimmer Injuries: Garden maintenance equipment like strimmers pose a significant threat to hedgehogs, causing severe injuries when encountered.

  2. Pet Attacks: Domestic pets, especially dogs, can injure hedgehogs when encountered in gardens or during walks.

  3. Road Traffic Collisions: Urbanisation increases hedgehog encounters with roads, leading to injuries and fatalities from traffic collisions.

  4. Natural Parasites: Hedgehogs are susceptible to parasites like ticks and fleas, which can weaken them and require treatment to treat their conditions.

This particular hedgehog was admitted after becoming injured by a strimmer. A very nasty wound to the back of his head, which required stitches and antibiotics. In 2023 we treated over 30 strimmer related injuries. Many of the casualties did not survive their horrific injuries, a shocking statistic that acts as a driving force behind our important work and awareness campaigns. Fortunately, this hedgehog survived his ordeal and was released back to the wild, contributing towards the UK's efforts to increase hedgehog populations.


Strimmer injuries or other garden related accidents can easily be avoided or at least reduced by checking long grass or wild areas before cutting back. Spending just 10 mins checking can save a precious little life!

 

HOW TO HELP


It is possible to make a difference even in a small way. You too can play a vital role in hedgehog conservation efforts. Here are some ways you can get involved:


  1. Donate: By making a donation to Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, you can directly contribute to the care and rehabilitation of hedgehogs in need. Your support enables us to continue our life-saving work and expand our conservation efforts.

  2. Volunteer: Join our team of dedicated volunteers and lend a helping hand in caring for hedgehogs and other wildlife. Whether it's feeding orphaned hoglets, cleaning enclosures, or assisting with administrative tasks, your time and skills are invaluable to us.

  3. Spread the Word: Share information about hedgehogs beyond Hedgehog Awareness Week and the importance of hedgehog conservation with your friends, family, and community. Together, we can raise awareness and inspire others to take action. You can book an outreach visit from our team to your school or community group to help inspire respect and protect for wildlife.

  4. Create a Hedgehog-Friendly Garden: Make your garden a welcoming habitat for hedgehogs by providing food, water, and shelter. Simple measures like leaving out shallow dishes of water, avoiding the use of pesticides, and creating hedgehog walkways can make a world of difference. Purchase hedgehog-friendly items from our web shop.


a hedgehog in a red towel

TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE


We have a collective responsibility to safeguard the future of hedgehogs and all precious creatures of our natural world. Let's join forces to protect these enchanting creatures and ensure a brighter future for hedgehogs. Your support, whether through donations, volunteering, or spreading awareness, makes a tangible difference in the lives of hedgehogs and all wildlife. Together, let's pave the way for a world where hedgehogs thrive in harmony with nature.


By Asha Park




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