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20th Feb 2024

Hedgehog sightings rise across the UK after years of decline

Charlie Herbert

Hedgehog sightings up in the UK

The increase in hedgehog sightings has been described as ‘wonderful’

Hedgehog sightings in the UK are on the rise after years of decline, an annual BBC Gardener’s World Magazine Survey has found.

The survey saw Gardener’s World readers asked to document the wildlife they saw in their gardens, and hedgehog sightings ended up being up by two percentage points compared to the year before.

Last year, 33 per cent of respondents said they had seen a hedgehog in their garden in 2023, up from 31 per cent in 2022.

Of those who said they had seen a hedgehog in their garden last year, 21 per cent said they had seen one for the first time in 2023 or saw them more often compared to the year before.

Meanwhile, hedgehog sightings were also up in urban (18 per cent, up 2.7 percentage points) and rural areas (43 per cent, up 1 percentage point) compared to 2022.

This comes after years of the numbers of the animals declining in number due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Previous reports have estimated that the hedgehog population had fallen by between 30 and 75 per cent across various regions of the UK since 2000, the Guardian reports.

The main reasons for the population decline are thought to be due to walls and fences stopping the small mammals travelling around and pesticides killing the insects they eat to survive.

Hedgehogs can also be killed if they eat slugs and snails that have ingested poisonous pellets.

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents to this year’s Gardeners World survey said they had been making effort to improve their garden for wildlife in 2023.

This included measures such as no longer using slug pellets, checking for wildlife before strimming and maintaining more natural gardens.

Keeping parts of your garden ‘messy’ with things such as logs, long grass and plants can encourage hedgehogs to nest there and hunt for insects. Gardeners are also encouraged to create holes in fences to act as ‘hedgehog highways.’

Kevin Smith, the editor of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine, said: “It’s wonderful to witness an increase in sightings. Our ongoing efforts to educate people about wildlife-friendly gardening, such as creating openings in fences and providing secluded spaces for nesting and hibernation, are helping turn our gardens into the havens that hedgehogs have long enjoyed.”

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