We can all do our bit to protect hedgehogs – here’s why

Today is ‘National Hedgehog Day’ – yep.

Sorry, what?

You heard us! Today is National Hedgehog Day and, while it’s important to celebrate these adorable little critters, it’s also a call to action to make sure that they are protected.

Rural hedgehog numbers have fallen by between 30-75% since 2000 and, while urban populations are beginning to stabilise thanks to human intervention, there’s still a lot that needs to be done to protect these walking pinecones.

Why do we have National Hedgehog Day in the first place?

According to Tommy Wilde from floofmania.com: “The story goes that ‘hedgehog day’ goes as far back as the Roman period where people kept an eye on the hedgehog’s hibernation pattern and used it as an indicator to predict spring.

“The idea was, that if a hedgehog came out of hibernating on February 2nd and didn’t see its own shadow, it would go back into hibernation… on the other hand, if it did see its own shadow, it would come out of hibernation, and it would be a sign that spring would start early!”

Native hedgehog. Credit BHPS

Are hedgehogs really that important?

Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street says: “Hedgehogs have been a part of our cultural heritage for centuries (everyone knows and loves Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy-Winkle!), but they’re also a vital part of our ecosystem. 

How do we help protect hedgehogs?

According to Grace, one of the best ways to help is to make a Hedgehog Highway (a small 13cm square gap in or under a garden boundary), which allows hedgehogs to travel between gardens looking for food, shelter and mates. 

Hedgehog Street is a nationwide campaign run by wildlife charities The British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species. Since 2011 they have been working to reverse the decline in native hedgehogs – one of Britain’s favourite mammals that used to be prevalent in our towns, villages and countryside.

If you’re interested in taking more action to protect these adorable, spiny lil things, there’s lots of free advice at www.hedgehogstreet.org.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.