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Why are hedgehogs declining?

Hedgehog Decline

This issue is not straightforward. There could be many factors that are contributing to the decline of hedgehog populations. Plus, it is also complicated because populations in urban and rural habitats experience different pressures and changes.

Research is underway to teach us more about why hedgehogs are declining and what we can do about it

PTES and BHPS are currently commissioning various research projects into the reasons for their decline and measures that could be taken to reverse the effects.

Read the State of Britain’s Hedgehogs Report 2022.

Photo by Hedgehog Champion Steve Dickerson from Bristol

Rural hedgehogs

⚫ Widespread use of pesticides reduces the invertebrates hedgehogs eat
⚫ Larger field sizes makes it difficult for hedgehogs to move around the landscape
⚫ Hedgerow management by flailing now leads to the hedges with gappy bases, poor for nesting
⚫ Intensive management of pastures with herbicides and fertilizers reduce the amount of invertebrates
⚫ Increasing badgers – the main natural predator – may have an effect where habitat is already degraded
⚫ Ploughing can destroy permanent pastures

Urban hedgehogs

⚫ Impermeable garden fencing and walls limits the area of connected land available
⚫ Gardens lost to car parking or decking directly reduces foraging area
⚫ Busy roads cause mortalities. As well as this, they can disrupt dispersal routes for hedgehogs
⚫ New developments usually lack any connectivity between gardens
⚫ Overmanagement and development destroys hibernation habitats (typically scrubby or brambly areas)
⚫ Over-tidy gardening can remove dead wood, replace foraging areas with drives and decking and clear away overgrown corners
⚫ Use of pesticides and slug pellets can poison animals and kills the invertebrates ‘hogs eat

→ Tell me more about the wider campaign to help hedgehogs in Britain