Gardeners have long called hedgehogs ‘the Gardener’s friend’, as the quiet little creatures shuffle through our gardens at nights snuffling out grubs, worms and the odd slug and snails. Natural pest control with no carbon footprint, just four tiny little paw prints!
At Christmas we popped over to Havenmore Hedgehog rescue to donate Hedgehog food to help them get through winter. Friendly founder Rose and husband Rich kindly welcomed us in for a tour of the rescue. For an incredible 15 years Rose has looked out for hedgehogs that need help, and she has run the rescue for four and a half years. That’s a lot of time, experience and knowledge, dedicated to helping a small prickly creature. Why? Rose talked us through it whilst showing us the hedgehog incubators and the poorly adult hedgehogs inside them.
Hedgehogs used to be abundant in Britain, with an estimated 35,000,000 in the 1950s. Now estimates are less than 1,500,000. Without the intervention of all the rescues and wildlife hospitals, hedgehogs are vulnerable to extinction.
There are many challenges facing hedgehogs that they have no control over, including habitat loss and use of pesticides, and Rose sees the impact on hedgehogs first hand. In the last 8 years she has rescued over 1,000 hedgehogs. Rose does everything possible to help hedgehogs, including using much of her home as the rescue, most of her time to support the rescue, and giving educational talks about hedgehogs. A talented artist, she also sells her work to raise money for the rescue. Rose has completed the Vale Wildlife Hospital course in first aid, care and rehabilitation, has had training from several other hedgehog rescues, and also has help from local wildlife-friendly vets who are a big support.
Hedgehogs' natural habitats are being blocked away from them by modern housing with fully fenced gardens, artificial grass, and raised beds. These little creatures literally cannot reach the areas they thrive in. Simple changes that we have made to our gardens have had a huge impact on hedgehogs. Simple changes can rectify this. Hedges, compost piles and wild areas in gardens will give hedgehogs vital safe areas. An increase in awareness about the plight of the hedgehog has led to some improvements, thankfully leading to an increase of hedgehogs in some urban areas. Sadly they continue to decrease in rural areas.
Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. Rose and her fellow hedgehog rescues across Britain are working so hard to help hedgehogs, and doing an amazing job. We need to support them now as much as we can to ensure the survival of the British hedgehog.
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To support Havenmore Hedgehog Rescue, see https://www.havenmorehedgehogrescue.co.uk/