As hedgehogs awake from hibernation at this time of year, gardeners are urged to show them some love to help slow down their steep decline.
The Sunday Mirror understands the loss of hedgerows and new farming techniques are hitting hedgehogs hard, with the prickly population dropping from almost 36 million in the 1950s to under one million.
Fay Vass, from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said: “The decline is steep and worrying and we need to act if we stand a chance of reversing it.
“Everyone can do their bit, in particular by linking the pockets of land where hedgehogs flourish. Hopefully this much-loved animal will soon be more of a common sight.”
A report by BBC Gardeners’ World found half of people surveyed had never seen a hedgehog in their garden.
Only a third had spotted one in the past year, with only one in ten seeing them on a regular basis. Hedgehogs are great for gardens, gobbling up pests such as slugs, snails and mice. But there is plenty you can do to help see a spike in numbers.
A quick solution is creating a 13cm by 13cm gap in your fence at ground level for them to pass through. The size of a CD case is ideal. Hedgehogs walk a mile a night, so need to have a good highway system.
Leave part of your garden to grow a bit wild, so they can hide out. Wood piles are also popular nesting areas. Also, take care when strimming long grass or overgrown spots as they may be hiding out.
They hibernate from November, so be on your guard. Hedgehogs can swim but they need a hand to get out of ponds. So have sloping edges or rocks to give them a convenient n escape route.
Never put out white bread and milk– it is bad for them. Instead, leave out dog or cat food or a banana.
Finally, you can buy or make a hedgehog home out of bits of timber. For instructions and more on helping hogs, visit britishhedgehogs.org.uk.