Hoping for a hog in my hedge!

Did you know that hedgehogs are called hedgehogs, because they sound like hogs and they like hedges! It makes sense, but it isn’t something I had thought about before until today when I met Becky Walton of HK Hedgehogs.  
Becky is a local hedgehog heroine. She spotted a hedgehog in her garden a couple of years ago, became interested in everything hedgehog related and got her neighbours involved on a grand scale! 
Hedgehog populations are in decline and they need our help. Luckily there are small changes that anyone with a garden can make to help them. Hedgehogs are noctural, during the daytime they sleep and they come out at night to hunt, travelling up to a mile looking for food! They need safe sheltered places they can hide away to sleep in the day time and they need connected gardens to travel across at night time on the search for food. 
You can help hedgehogs the most by doing the following:
  • Leave holes in fences for hedgehogs to get from garden to garden.
  • Create places for hedgehogs to hide – hedges, large bushes, piles of leaves, logs, open compost heaps or even make / buy a hedgehog hut
  • Feed them – but NOT milk or bread  instead give them (taken from Hedgehog Street):
    • ‘Meat-based dog or cat food
    • Unsalted chopped or crushed peanuts
    • Sunflower hearts
    • Dried meal worms’ 
  • Install a pond, or if you have one already make sure that there is a gentle slope that they can use to get in and out of the pond.
  • Avoid using slug pellets and be careful that netting isn’t left lying around for hedgehogs to get tangled up in.
  • Instigate/ take part in hedgehog monitoring projects in your local area.
  • Raise awareness of the issues facing hedgehogs and what can be done about them – there is lots of help and resources for how to do that on the Hedgehog Street site here.
Becky started up a Hedgehog street in my local area, has run events to raise awareness of the challenges facing hedgehogs and what people can do to help, taken part in a University hedgehog project, been on on Springwatch on TV and is currently running a hedgehog monitoring project with over 50 households taking part! She will also be speaking at the Day of the Hedgehog on the 21st November 2015 in Telford read more here.

I’m really excited as Becky dropped off a hedgehog monitoring tunnel today (as pictured at the top of the post), so that we can take part in her current project. We have lots of hedgehog friendly features already so I’m hoping we will see some hedgehog prints in the morning.
The tunnel is simply designed, it has two sheets of A4 paper on each side, a bowl of hedgehog food in the middle and strips of ink either side of the food. The idea is the hedgehog will have to tread in the ink before it reaches the food and then it will leave prints on it’s way out of the tunnel (the picture shows it opened out, but it folds up into a triangular tunnel). 
Becky left us a great sheet showing some of the potential footprints we might see and what kinds of animals would leave them. Each morning we need to change the paper, make sure there is enough ink and top up the food and I will be doing it for 5 days. I will report back during the week about which footprints if any we get! Hope we get some visitors!
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