As hedgehogs begin to roam the UK again after waking up from winter hibernation, protection groups say getting the key facts right could help people save the species in their areas.
Here are five myths experts say are hampering efforts to increase their numbers:
Wildlife charities People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) have been working together on hedgehog conservation for the last decade.
Voted Britain’s favourite mammal in a Royal Society of Biology poll in 2016, West-European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus), are not short of admirers.
Yet despite being the nation’s favourite, these creatures are often the victim of mistaken identity, given the wrong food or even thought of as fleabags.
The groups said busting these myths will ensure everyone involved in trying to halt their declining numbers has the correct facts at their fingertips.
The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2015 report, published by BHPS and PTES, showed a continuing decline in hedgehog numbers, in both rural and urban landscapes.
A spokeswoman for the groups said: “The loss of hedgerows and intensive farming in rural areas, along with tidy, fenced-in gardens in urban and suburban locations, are just some of the threats contributing to the demise of Britain’s native hedgehog.
“Despite this, there are several ways the groups say public and conservationists alike can help to combat falling hedgehog numbers.
“BHPS and PTES set up Hedgehog Street in 2011, a citizen science campaign which offers advice and encourages people to connect their gardens and other green spaces to improve hedgehogs’ access to food, shelter and mates.”
Since its launch, Hedgehog Street has inspired more than 43,000 volunteers (Hedgehog Champions) to create hedgehog-friendly neighbourhoods, by linking up their gardens.
Other small changes people can make to help hedgehogs include:
1) Pledge to make a small hole – no bigger than a CD case – in your garden fence, wall and other barriers, to allow hedgehogs access to different gardens
2) Log your ‘hog sightings – dead or alive – on The BIG Hedgehog Map
3) Provide suitable food for hedgehogs, such as hedgehog food or meaty pet food, and water to drink With the correct facts at your fingertips, join the ongoing campaign to save our hedgehogs by becoming a Hedgehog Champion: www.hedgehogstreet.org