By Rebecca Soan 

I live in Silverhill, St Leonards, and recently discovered I have a resident hedgehog. The joy I experienced seeing this beautiful creature was tinged with sadness. I recalled over the years that I’ve only seen hedgehogs as roadkill in East Sussex, but even then, only once or twice if that. 

I then realised that it’s been well over a decade since I’ve been fortunate enough to see a live hedgehog in the area. Younger generations have most likely never seen a hedgehog in the wild. Data from the RSPB, BTO and PTES states that nationally, in the past decade, we’ve lost over half our rural hedgehogs and a third of their population from towns and cities. Put simply, this is a catastrophic decline and one I couldn’t help but feel compelled to shout about. 

A hedgehog-friendly garden in Silverhill

Do we want to lose this iconic species, the gardener’s friend who diligently helps to control the dreaded slug and snail populations?

We can all help this autumn and forever by considering making our gardens more accessible. Hedgehogs rely on corridors; our best fences and walled gardens have become a huge problem. Hedgehogs can travel over a mile every night, further in breeding season.

And there is vital work going on behind the scenes to help our hedgehogs. To find out more you can go to the Hedgehog Street website or even join in their campaign. Among other things, Hedgehog Street is improving urban areas for hedgehogs by: encouraging more gardens and green spaces linked with ‘Hedgehog Highways’ in fences; creating more wild areas and log piles in gardens for insects and other wildlife; and building more hedgehog houses and feeding stations in gardens.

Please remember that our prickly friends will be hibernating soon, so don’t forget to check areas of vegetation before forking and before a bonfire.

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