This young hedghog was born near us earlier this year and she (or he!) has been a regular visitor each evening. We leave the uneaten catfood out for her and the plate is always licked clean.
I am hoping she moves into my hedghog house to hibernate in the next few weeks. It is in a quiet place tucked away under a bush, there are plenty of dry, dead leaves for bedding and I've placed food near it to help her locate it.
That's as far as I got before I was called away.
In my imagination this little hedghog grew to maturity, found a mate and produced a healthy brood of happy piglets (?) while I watched and provided the catfood!
Well, it is not to be.
I went out this morning and returned to the sight of a dead body in the middle of the lane.
A road accident then.It is a very common cause of death for hedghogs .... our lane is a dead end with only a dozen properties yet two young hedghogs have died here in a matter of weeks. Surveys reveal that approximately 15,000 hedghogs are killed on our roads each year .... how do they know that?? Who do they ask?? I have an image of a geek scientist in a white coat, carrying a clipboard, knocking on doors. Obviously that's not what they do!
What they actually do is quite paradoxical. By going for a 20 mile drive and counting the number of dead hedghogs they measure not, as you would expect, how many hedghogs have been killed by cars but how many hedghogs there are for cars to kill! The more dead hedghogs the better as that indicates a healthy number of live hedghogs apparently!
According to the British Hedghog Preservation Society numbers are declining rapidly ... 25% in 10 years and no one seems to be certain of the causes. Increased use of pesticides is the most favoured theory, but we have known that for years. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was published in 1962 (named as one of the top 25 greatest science books of all time); it led to the ban on DDT. Pesticides are now tested, regulated and labelled. We have 'hedghog friendly' slug pellets ... a healthy hedghog can eat masses of the blue crunchy stuff, or about 5,000 poisoned slugs, before it proves fatal. They make it sound quite innocent! It is still killing the slugs ... reducing the hedghogs' food supply.
A better way to get rid of slugs is caffeine. Slug Snub Caffeine Spray repels slugs and snails and is safe to use on plants. Alternatively you can collect the slimy creatures and rub them all over your face ... apparently the slime is the latest cure for wrinkles!
If you are interested in providing a hedghog shelter for your garden click here.