Hedgehogs need a hero: City critters on border of extinction
- Credit: Archant
Nature lovers are calling on city folk to stand up and do their bit for Norwich's prickly neighbours.
The State of Britain's Hedgehogs report by a group of wildlife charities found that hedgehogs were in "steep decline" in rural areas decreasing by 30pc and 75pc since 2000.
It added the picture in cities such as Norwich is slightly brighter, where there were signs hedgehog populations are starting to recover.
But today those responsible for caring for city wildlife warned "Norwich can't get complacent about hedgehogs".
Andrew Dellbridge, a pest controller with Catton-based Ace Pest Control, who is passionate about the animals' wellbeing, said: "Norwich can't get complacent. Hedgehogs are struggling here.
"People need to make sure hedgehogs can move around as freely as possible.
"In some suburbs in the city hedgehogs are right up against it. They're on endangered red lists in some places.
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"The more we do, the more hedgehogs we'll see.
"Not one singular thing will fix it, we all need to pull together."
When asked what homeowners can do to help hedgehogs thrive, Mr Dellbridge said people needed to kick old habits.
He added: "Definitely no milk which was the thing people always used to do - it's terrible for them.
"If you've got a hedgehog home, it must be secure as badgers will try to break them down and go for them.
"You've got to be mindful, the best thing you can do is make a hedgehog hole in your fence so they can move from garden to garden to do their daily business."
Paula Pithers, who runs Hodmedods Hedgehog Support which has volunteers across the city says "simple things" can help the beasts thrive.
These include putting out kitten food and water.
She said: "Hedgehogs are certainly suffering at the moment with a loss of habitats as well as insecticides and pesticides.
"We're losing more hedges and bushes, the places hedgehogs make a home in.
"If you see a hedgehog out in the daylight and it looks a bit lethargic, it needs rescuing.
"My main message to people would be to be a bit more aware, especially when you're in your garden. Don't just stick your shovel in, a hedgehog could be anywhere."
How you can be a hedgehog hero?
- Putting out food - hedgehogs are partial to cat and dog food as well as a bowl of water. Be careful with food specifically designed for them, with Ms Pithers saying some of it can actually cause harm.
- Make a hedgehog hole - making a hedgehog-sized hole in fences can allow the creatures to roam from garden to garden on their daily business.
- Make a secure hedgehog home - even hedgehogs need a home so providing one in gardens is a great step to helping the creatures. Make sure it's secure, with city badgers always on the look out to barge in and attack.
- Wild patches - forming a wild patch out of leaves or other garden waste will give hedgehogs the perfect place to sleep
- Stop using toxic pesticides and insecticides - slug pellets are particularly toxic to hedgehogs.