Talk by Judith Large on Hedgehogs given on 20th February 2020

Judith Large gave a talk on the Hedgehog Hospital in Shepreth (24 attended): In the 1960s there were 30 million hedgehogs now there are 1.5 million. Their main food is earth worms. When the worms are not available the resort to slugs and snails, which in turn gives them lungworm.

This species has not adapted well to the changes in the environment. They nocturnal and solitary, they used to hibernate from November to February but with climate change this is variable. They breed twice a year in May and August and are very promiscuous. The first litter has a better survival rate than they second as they need to weigh 650 gm to hibernate.

The hospital sees those that are in trouble, being out in daytime. If the hedgehog can roll into a ball it is fine if it is sausage shape with legs out then it needs help. The main diseases are Ringworm, Lungworm and Thorny headed worm.

They a mainly in and around villages and towns not in arable areas so there are island populations which cannot easily cross main roads, railways etc. fragmenting the population. Their main predator is the Badger. Badgers kill 2%, road kills are 10%.

Ten ways to help Hedgehogs:

1 Have wild corners in the garden

2 Ponds should either be walled or level ponds should have ramps out, parallel with the side.

3 Garden should have links with holes in fences and walls.

4 Peg down netting firmly.

5 Make water available.

6 Provide a feeding station with four and a half inch square entrance hole, feed with kitten biscuits and cat or dog food.

7 Do not use slug pellets.

8 Before strimming check area for hedgehogs.

9 Provide log piles so insects are plentiful

10 Check bonfires for hedgehogs, better to use incinerators.

The average life expectance is 3 years, they can live to seven year.