By Gill Morgan of the Jersey Hedgehog Preservation Group
You may have read of the concerns over the decline of hedgehog numbers in Britain, with numbers allegedly falling by up to 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas over the last 20 years. This has led to one of Britain’s best loved mammals being listed as “Vulnerable” on Britain’s red list of mammals.
The Jersey Hedgehog Preservation Group is concerned that a similar decline is taking place in Jersey and as such we are asking the public of Jersey to record any sightings of hedgehogs, dead or alive, through an online survey which will be available between the end of April and end of November 2022. Previous surveys were carried out in 2007 and 2012 and this survey will help to ascertain whether numbers have declined significantly over the last 10 years.
While we do not hypothesise on the reason for falling numbers it is obvious from other wildlife surveys that loss of habitat from building work and farming practices, increased traffic, pesticides, and even the trend for low maintenance gardens could all contribute to the decline. Strangely, despite the increase in traffic on the island, there appear to be fewer flattened hogs around this year, but this may be a result of declining numbers rather than the hogs gaining road sense at last.
The Jersey Hedgehog Survey requests information on location, numbers seen together and frequency of sightings. We also want negative replies. Perhaps you used to see hedgehogs, but have not seen any for some years. Please let us know.
In the meantime, if you want to help our cute spiny friends to thrive, there are some simple things you can do to make your garden hedgehog friendly.
Make sure they can get in and out of your garden by providing a 13cm hole in your fence, gate or wall, as they like to travel, sometimes up to a couple of miles each night before coming back to their nest.
Place bowls of clean fresh water on the ground, or if you have a pond, make sure there is a shallow area that will allow a hedgehog that falls in to climb back out. They are good at climbing, and swimming, indeed one was rescued by a passing boat while determinedly swimming out to sea! However, they need something to grip on to in order to get back out of the water like a rough piece of wood or some chicken wire. If you have a swimming pool, some rigid plastic mesh placed over the edge can be used as an escape ladder.
Take care with strimmers and mowers and please check for hedgehogs before starting work. If you have nets over ponds or fruit trees raise it 13cm off the ground or peg it down securely, spines have a habit of becoming entwined in netting! Check bonfires before lighting – remember a hedgehog’s defence mechanism is to roll into a ball rather than run away from danger like most other animals.
If you wish to feed your visiting hogs, small size dog or cat biscuits (or crushed up larger biscuits), will be gratefully received, and work out much less expensive than “hedgehog food” which can contain mealworm, sunflower seeds or peanuts which can give them brittle bones and are best avoided.
If possible cover the food with a box which allows hedgehogs in, but not the gulls, and neighbourhood cats, or in my case a limbo dancing dog! All you need is a plastic storage box with a 13cm hole cut in one end, and place a brick inside 13 cm from the entrance which the hog can walk around, but deters other visitors.
Hedgehogs generally move around at night, not because they are concerned about predators, but because that is when their food supplies are around (earthworms, slugs, snails, beetles to name a few). (For UK hedgehogs badgers are a significant predator, something which does not concern our Jersey hogs of course). Hedgehogs are a nicer way to garden organically and far less destructive to our wildlife than awful slug pellets.
Finally, if you see a hedgehog out and about during the day it may be sick or injured and need help. However, if it is a large hedgehog walking with purpose in the daytime, maybe carrying leaves or grass in her mouth then it will be a mother with youngsters nearby and the babies will die if you remove her. For immediate advice contact the Hedgehog Preservation Group by e-mail: email@example.com, or telephone 01534 734340.
If you wish to participate in the Jersey Hedgehog Distribution Survey 2022 please go to:
or the Website: http//jerseyhedgehogs.co.uk,
you can find us on facebook: www.facebook.com/jerseyhedgehoggroup
or alternatively e-mail or telephone your sightings to the contacts above.
Jersey Hedgehog Preservation Group, White Lodge, Le Chemin des Moulins, St Helier, JE2 4 ZR. Registered Jersey Charity No. 004
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP
any queries please contact
Tel: 07797 916493