About Me

Hello and welcome to my nature writing blog. My name is Jill Stanton-Huxton and I am a freelance writer with a passion for the natural world. I am a volunteer and member of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), World Wildlife Fund, British Hedgehog Preservation Society, UK Butterfly Conservation, Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hosptial and BBONT (UK Wildlife Trusts). Please feel free to comment on my posts and if you’ve enjoyed your visit please come again! You can also find me on my facebook page: Nature Notes of a Country Girl. Best wishes, Jill

Friday, 1 July 2011

Take a walk down 'Hedgehog Street'...

I had been hoping to see a hedgehog in the garden for a few months now; I would often hear them in the late evening or early morning munching on the food I leave out for them, but could never seem to catch a glimpse of one. Then, finally, on a recent moonlit evening my perseverance paid off and I managed to see one eating away happily, completely oblivious to my prying eyes.

While I sat watching him for several minutes I realised why these cute little spiny mammals were recently listed as the UK’s favourite wild animals; and also reminded of the special place they so often hold in our childhood memories with The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and ‘The Queen’s Croquet Ground’ in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Interestingly, it’s not just nowadays that hedgehogs have captured people’s imagination; in the first century, Pliny the Elder, wrote about them climbing apple trees, knocking the fruit down, and then rolling on the apples so they could impale them in their spines and carry them of to their burrows!

Unfortunately, not all the myths associated with them were so harmless though. In medieval Britain, farmers believed they stole milk from cows during the night; and in 1566, the Elizabethan parliament put a three pence bounty on their heads which lead to thousands of them being killed.

Today the plight of the hedgehog is not looking too good either, due to a number of different factors, one of which is habitat loss. Sadly, recent studies show that the hedgehog population has declined by 50% in parts of the UK in the last two decades. Part of the problem is that they can travel about a mile each night to gather food and find a mate and so they need to move between many gardens; so barriers, such as fences and walls, prevent movement around their home range and loss of habitat means that there is nowhere for them to forage or hibernate.

The good news is that The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) have recently got together to create an innovative  project called ‘Hedgehog Street’ to help combat this devastating decline. The project aims to recreate a mosaic of interconnected habitats in suburbia by enlisting volunteer ‘Hedgehog Champions’ in local neighbourhoods who can offer advice on the simple steps we can all take in our own gardens to help these endearing little animals. 

For further information see: http://www.hedgehogstreet.org/