Hedgehogs in Darrick Wood by Trevor Morgan

We have not seen any hedgehog in Darrick and Newstead Woods even though we have put “camera traps” alongside the borders of the woods and human habitation and gardens. I was of the opinion that there were no hedgehogs in the area , so imagine my surprise when I saw a hedgehog waddling along the pavement near to our house in Northlands Avenue which is just a stone’s throw from the woods.

I have not seen a living hedgehog in Britain for over 40 years, and I had almost forgotten what they looked like. My wife and I saw ours at around 9 30 pm, a week ago, as it was beginning to get dark.  At first I thought it was a large rat and was confused by the shape until we got a little nearer. We were delighted to see this iconic animal alive and well near our garden.  I wasn’t quick witted enough to photograph it as it disappeared under a car.

When, I was a lad in Wales nearly everyone would see a hedgehog in their garden. We used to pick them up; they seemed to be unafraid of us as they were wrapped up tightly in defensive mode. Foxes could not harm them, neither could cats or dogs, but badgers could easily unravel them. Hedgehogs and badgers have, however, lived alongside each other for thousands of years. The demise of the hedgehog in Britain can surely be attributed to human beings not from picking them up but from habitat destruction.

Some human beings preyed on hedgehogs which would be wrapped in clay and then cooked on a fire so that the spikes could easily be removed. This country pursuit although cruel did not lead to the demise of our favourite insectivore. Hedgehogs were easily surviving the 1950’s and 1960’s; but they are now having difficulty surviving habitat destruction.

If you see a hedgehog then do not pick it up as it will have plenty of fleas and ticks living on its spiky skin: it should be left alone. You can help their cause by leaving gaps in your garden fence to allow them to roam freely. Also, why not dispense with the use of pesticides in your garden to give insects and other invertebrates  a chance – the hedgehogs feed on them.

Recording your sighting will help hedgehog researchers and you can input your observation here: https://bighedgehogmap.org/

For more information on hedgehogs see here: https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/