Helping hedgehogs

I remember, late one night, perhaps forty years ago, taking a shortcut home across a disused railway line in the city. It was a very dark path and seldom used, but it cut a mile or so off our walk home. We had no torch, but the moon was bright and the skies clear enough to see our way, enough at least to show us the damaged path and the tussocks of grass over which we could have tripped.

It must have been midway along the path, right where it crossed the old rails, when I saw one of the tussocks move. There was the strangest of noises, a sort of low grunting, coming from all around and it was quite eerie. We stopped, wondering what on earth it could be… and as our eyes adjusted to the light, saw dozens and dozens of hedgehogs of all sizes, curled into tight balls around our feet and wandering up and down the old line in the moonlight.

I had never seen so many hedgehogs… or, for that matter, so many wild mammals together at once. It was a magical sight and one I have never forgotten.

It was only when I read an article on their declining numbers that I realised just how few hedgehogs I have seen over the past twenty years. Apart from the ones that lived in my old garden, I could only think of the odd one or two… and the last real ‘close encounter’ was five years ago now, when Ani met the ‘ball’ that ran away.

I know I get hedgehogs here, on the edge of the fields, but in spite of having the big glass door standing open day and night, have only glimpsed a shadowy ball in the darkness, and seen the after-effects of their presence. Where once a hedgehog sighting was a common thing, now it is a rarity.

From road deaths to habitat loss, human impact on the countryside plays a major part in the fact that hedgehog numbers have decreased so dramatically that there may be fewer than a million of the iconic little creatures left in the wild. It would be a tragedy to see ‘Mrs Tiggywinkle’ fade into memory.

However, we can help. It seems that while rural hedgehogs have suffered a rapid decline along with the hedgerows that they need, their urban counterparts are adapting to life within our garden hedges.  John Bainbridge published a post last week that sets out ways in which we can make our gardens hedgehog friendly and how we can care for these beautiful if prickly, little creatures.

It doesn’t take much… and there are few things more wonderful than to watch a wild creature hunting in your garden, especially when its prey consists largely of the slugs and beetles that the gardener sees as a pest.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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31 Responses to Helping hedgehogs

  1. Annika Perry says:

    Sue, you’re right about hedgehogs being a rare visitor these days … sadly so! I’ll see if we can make any adjustments in the garden to attract them! The final artwork of the hedgehog is beautiful … an aura surrounding it. Is it your work?

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  2. I’ve seen very few here, though no dead ones. The wildlife sanctuary says they are suffering from a mysterious virus that’s killing them in their hundreds. Blackbirds have a mystery virus too, and thrushes and rabbits…

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  3. anita dawes says:

    Sadly, we found a rather large hedgehog that had passed away in our garden last week. Either it was his time, or he came out of hibernation too soon. So I am interested in how to make life better for these amazing creatures…

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  4. This is so sad, Sue. Hedgehogs are such lovely creatures and I love Mrs Tiggywinkle.

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  5. Sadje says:

    Human population explosion has impacted the wild life pretty badly. It’s time of rescue!

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  6. I’ve never seen a hedgehog, Sue, (other than in books) and I wondered why… well, an internet search said there aren’t any in Oregon. 😦 Your hedgehog encounter sounds magical, and I’m glad that there are ways to encourage their presence in your garden.<3

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  7. We love the little guys too and don’t see very many here at all. We saw evidence of one in the garden shortly after we arrived here, but they seem to be an extremely rare sight now which is a shame.

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  8. When I was living with my mother we would put out sultanas for the resident blackbird…but we noticed movement in the garden through the living room window in the faint light of the nearb streetlamp and we switched off our lights and watched a fox and a hedgehog side by side eating any stray sultanas and enjoying a drink from an upturned dustbin lid buried in one of the flower beds.. a magical sight.

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  9. Darlene says:

    Hedgehogs are so cute. We didn’t have them in Canada, at least not in the part I lived in. So when I saw them in the UK when I first visited, I was delighted. Sad to see their numbers are diminishing.

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  10. Eliza Waters says:

    I think they are adorable and I’ve always loved Mrs. Tiggywinkle. 🙂

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  11. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    How to help the hedgehogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. willowdot21 says:

    I do love Hedgehogs but as you say we don’t see them very often 💜

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