With the number of hedgehogs in the UK in serious decline - one local rescuer is urging us all to do our bit to help the animals.
Wildlife charities say the species has seen numbers drop by a staggering 50 per cent over the last 20 years - with loss of habitat being the prime cause.
Rescuers like Tracey Stevenson from Hedgelina’s Home For Hogs, in Great Hale, are working hard to rescue, treat and rehabilitate the hogs, before returning them to the wild. But now she is making an appeal for people to make their gardens as ‘hogs-pitable’ as possible - and urging everyone to keep an eye out for hedgehogs in distress.
Her advice for making your garden ‘hogs-pitable’ and avoiding common dangers for the animals, includes :
1. Check for hedgehogs and hog nests before strimming or mowing. Tracey says: “So many rescues are seeing horrific injuries from strimmer, and very few hogs survive.”
2. Create a wilder garden area with long grass of plants which privide ground cover.
3. Place a shallow ramp in your pond to enable hogs to get out, should they fall in.
4. Create a feeding station from a large, lidded storage box with a CD-sized hole in one end. “Use duct tape to cover sharp edges and line with newspaper,” said Tracey. “Place a bowl of chicken cat biscuits inside and a shallow dish of water. Put the lid on, with a brick on top for weight.”
5. Avoid netting dangers. Hedgehogs can become trapped in netting used on strawberries and football goal nets. “Please lift nets 8ins off the ground when not in use,” asks Tracey. “If you must use strawberry netting, please check it morning and night.”
6. Ensure hedgehogs can get in and out your garden, via a gaps in hedges or fences. “This allows them to use the ‘hedgehog highway’ without having to use the roads,” says Tracey.
7. Avoid feeding mealworms, milk, bread, egg or peanuts. Stick to dried chicken-flavoured cat biscuits. “More and more hogs are suffering from excruciating Metabic Bone Disease due to incorrect diet,” Tracey explains. “All they need is cat food (I recommend dried biscuits, as they keep teeth clean, don’t attract the flies, and don’t go ‘off’ easily) and water.”
8. And lastly: “If you see a hog out in day-time, or one covered with ticks or flystrike (which looks like tiny grains of rice) place the hog in a high-sided box and call your nearest hog rescue,” adds Tracey. “I cover Sleaford and the surrounding villages.”
Call Tracey on 07899 748930 (ring, not text).
If you can help Hedgelina’s Home for Hogs by donating funds, chicken-flavoured cat food, or kitchen towels, call Tracey on the above number.