Country Corner - Saving the hedgehog is not a prickly topic

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We had a visit from this hedgehog the other night, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

No doubt we have quite regular visits without our knowledge.

I have not noticed their sequin covered droppings in the garden for a while, but then hedgehogs have only recently aroused from hibernation.

Despite this they will very soon be courting, which can be a noisy affair of much shoving and grunting.

Gardeners have long seen hedgehogs as allies in the fight against snails and slugs.

Mind you, I do wonder how many of my froglets fall to them in summer when tadpoles acquire their full set of legs and set off from the pond to explore the garden.

But then again, blackbirds are the main predator of our garden froglets, with hedgehogs a long way behind.

Like much of our county wildlife, hedgehogs have coped badly with the ever increasing frequency and speed of farm operations.

Nor has the almost universal use of toxic slug pellets helped the plight of hedgie.

Thankfully a new generation of gardeners has woken up to the catastrophic declines of garden wildlife due to years of chemical warfare by their predecessors.

Nor are they conned by labels proclaiming products to be ‘wildlife friendly’.

Folk now realise there are no butterflies without caterpillars and no hedgehogs without slugs.

Tolerance of nature in gardens is a growing mindset and may yet save the hedgehog before it is too late.

There is also the problem that so many garden sheds these days sit on or close to the ground.

Hedgehogs traditionally nested under garden huts.

So consider raising your shed on to a few bricks, especially if you are getting a new one. Bushes and hedges also make excellent day-time hideaways for these prickly garden visitors.