Heyyy there everyone! How are all of your festivities going? I hope you are all surrounded by mountains of tinsel and have been listening to Christmas music so much that all you can hum are carols. One of my favourite things about it finally being December is I can watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music without people judging me. Apparently making your shower playlist Christmassy at the beginning of November is too much … Oh well – from now until the beginning of January I can be as Christmassy as the big man in red himself, or a hundred elves combined, and no one can give me raised eyebrows, so I fully plan to make the most of it.
Anywho, I know some of you might have read today’s title and thought – ‘what do hedgehogs have to do with Christmas?’ Well … they don’t really, but just because hedgehogs aren’t Christmassy themselves (we can’t all be reindeer), that doesn’t mean we can’t still think about them and try to make their lives a little easier during Christmas. After all, what is Christmas, if not a time to give back and help those less fortunate, and I think it’s time we start adding animals to that list of ‘less fortunate’.
For those who might have missed it, one of the groups I joined at university (one I am very excited to be a part of) is called Hedgehog Friendly Campus. It’s an organisation that aims to turn universities into hedgehog friendly environments, as well as raise awareness about hedgehogs and help these endangered little creatures in any way we can.
Hedgehogs are adorable little mammals (the friendlier looking version of a porcupine, or a mole without the sniffly nose and with a slightly pricklier exterior), that sadly, are under threat due to human activity. Now there are different types of hedgehogs around the world, but for every species, their numbers are declining everywhere. In the UK for example (where the native hedgehog species is the West European hedgehog), hedgehog numbers have declined by over 50% since 2000! How crazy is that? Why are their numbers reducing so drastically? Roads, litter, reduction of their habitats and lack of food and water are some of the main contributors. They are only little and don’t do so well when threatened, so as you can imagine, the urban world is definitely a dangerous and terrifying place for a hedgehog.
As part of the group, we recently did a workshop about how we can help hedgehogs during winter, even by doing a few small things, and considering this is something I really care about, I thought I would share those tips with you all today!
Before we get into the tips for helping hedgehogs over winter and giving them a Merry Christmas, let me just go through a few basic things about them, what the dangers for them are in winter and then we’ll move onto how we can all help them.
Firstly, hedgehogs hibernate during winter (in really temperate climates where it hardly ever gets cold though, hedgehogs apparently don’t hibernate, like the ones in New Zealand). They are nocturnal, so you should never see them out during the day (if you do see one out during the day, call a local rescue centre immediately because they’re probably sick or poorly). They are solitary animals, definitely not aggressive and for little creatures with such small legs, they are very active. Hedgehogs are also an indicator of a green, healthy and sustainable area so if there are hedgehogs where you live, you know that your area is already on the right track to being more sustainable and helping the hedgehog numbers recover.
Now you might be thinking that individually, the things you do aren’t harmful to hedgehogs, and for the most part, you’re right because collective human action, in general, creates most of the dangers for them. However, there are still small things we do that can be a threat to them that you may not realise. For instance, littering. Litter is harmful to all animals, especially hedgehogs because they can mistake it for food, or entrap/injure them.
Another threat you may not have thought of is gardening. Hedgehogs might get into your garden looking for a safe space to hibernate for the winter (consider that a compliment!), so think carefully before deciding to do garden maintenance during the winter months. Keeping your garden ‘wild’ is always a good thing for hedgehogs, as it can create safe spaces for them, shelter and a place to find food. Don’t remove any brambles you have (hedgehogs actually love them), and try to leave your shed and leaves alone until spring because hedgehogs often create their little hibernation nests underneath sheds or beneath piles of leaves and you don’t want to disturb them while they’re hibernating.
So, now that I’ve painted this rather dark picture about how threatened hedgehogs are … how can we help them? Well, there are actually plenty of small things all of us can do to help hedgehogs during Christmas, and this could be a fun pledge to take on yourself or make it something the whole family can get involved in.
- Hedgehog friendly gardening – keep a wild patch or two, create a hedgehog highway (a little hole in the bottom of your fence so they can safely get in and out), make hedgehog houses, be wary of leaf and log piles and don’t use poisons.
- Provide nest areas or nest boxes for them (in your garden, or somewhere else)
- Don’t disturb them – leave them be and help from afar.
- Provide food and water for them (because their habitats are threatened, so are their food and water sources so by leaving out food and water for them will help more hedgehogs survive and make it through hibernation). Please note though that you can’t just feed a hedgehog anything!! Some foods are actually very harmful to hedgehogs, so the best thing I can suggest is dry kitten food. Put fresh water for them in a shallow dish.
- Keep an eye out for hedgehogs that are poorly/out in the day and contact a local Hedgehog Rescue Centre if you’re worried.
- Get involved in any way you can – join a hedgehog group, campaign for change, anything! It’s getting involved in all these little ways that can help make the difference and get hedgehog numbers back up to where they should be.
Hedgehogs may not be native to where you live, but if they are, they certainly deserve to have a jolly and merry Christmas too even if they may be hibernating. Come to think of it, after a big Christmas meal I think a lot of us might end up hibernating, so we’re not too different, except we all have plenty of food and fresh water, and a nice, safe, warm place to sleep when we are in our food comas. Together, we can give that to hedgehogs. I challenge you to take up this pledge to help as many hedgehogs in whatever way you can this Christmas (even if that is just signing a petition). Let’s make sure that hedgehogs have just as merry a Christmas as we do this year!!
One last thing – we are trying to raise money for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society so if any of you are able to we (and all the amazing hedgehogs) would really appreciate it! Any donation is hugely appreciated!! You can click here to donate.
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx