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Hedgehog Street People: Nick from Essex

21st January 2022

Hedgehog Champion Nick Chutter from Basildon in Essex tells us all about his efforts to help local hedgehogs.

Nick pictured helping with a rescued hog (NB: Please do not handle hedgehogs unless they are sick or injured and needing care, and do so wearing gloves, more info here)

A prickly discovery

“I have always been very much into wildlife and creating the perfect garden for wildlife is a passion of mine. During lockdown many people, myself included, explored their gardens more and enjoyed what little havens we have.

My wildlife passion was triggered even more on a mild evening in April last year when I had the patio doors open. I was watching the television I caught a glimpse of movement on the patio. To my surprise if was a hedgehog scurrying around the plant pots. Well you can imagine my excitement as I hadn’t seen a hedgehog in my garden for about 15 years. To see one suddenly now was overwhelming.

Well my mission was on! Each night I put down supplementary food and waited to see if the hedgehog would return. I lay on the floor with a camera, waiting patiently, and the hedgehog did indeed return. With all the excitement I bought a wildlife camera to catch more footage of this secret creature of the night. After a few nights I suddenly realised that I had more than one visitor coming into my garden. After close monitoring over a couple of weeks it turned out I actually had six hedgehogs feeding each night!”

Garden improvements

“After doing research on the Hedgehog Street site I opened up more areas of my garden with hedgehog highways. Over the summer I introduced hedgehog houses into my garden under bushes and grasses. After a short time the hedgehogs started making nests and sleeping in them. You can imagine my excitement; I felt so special and proud that they chose my garden.

With close monitoring I discovered they were using different houses each night to sleep in, and all houses were being used. I now have 20 houses available for them to sleep and hibernate in. These are in my garden, neighbours’ gardens and the surrounding hedgerows. I am lucky that my garden is surrounded by green space; shrubs and hedgerows that create the perfect place for hedgehogs to hide and find plenty of insect food. I decided to let all the neighbours in the area know that hedgehogs were present in this area and to be careful driving at night in case they were crossing the road.”

One of Nick’s resident hogs

Spreading the word

“Making neighbours aware then inspired others to open up their gardens to hedgehogs, allowing them to move safely from one garden to another.

I then decided to start up a social media group – yes yes I want to show them off and my friends and family, who are so happy to experience these creatures.

I have also made the local council know of certain areas they are present, so that care can be taken with strimmers and mowers.

I hope my story inspires others to help protect these declining creatures. Even if it’s just opening up your garden so they can visit or a small bowl of water it’s all something to help their survival. I never thought I would see another hedgehog in my garden, as so few people I know see them anymore. But I am one of the lucky ones who does, and my main priority now is to keep them safe, create and maintain the perfect home for them and feed them so they survive the winter period.”

Take the Hedgehog Garden Challenge to find out if your garden is a hog haven!