The hedgehog was voted Britain’s Favourite Wild Mammal, but despite that it is in trouble and hedgehog numbers have been declining for many years. The decline is so bad that hedgehogs have recently been classified as

 “Vulnerable to Extinction”. They are often referred to as the “gardener’s friend” and most of us are thrilled to spot one in the garden, but it’s becoming an increasingly rare sight.

The problem is that hedgehogs are finding it harder to find good places to live and enough food. And if hedgehogs are in trouble, it raises concerns about other species (including humans) and the environment in general. If we take action to improve things for hedgehogs, we will help lots of other wildlife too.

Litter can be a real problem for hedgehogs (and other wildlife). Things like carelessly dropped rubber bands, plastic rings from packs of drinks cans, polystyrene cups etc. can all get stuck around their necks or legs or on their heads. One successful campaign by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) got the McDonald’s McFlurry cup lids made smaller so that hedgehogs wouldn’t get their heads stuck in them and a warning that litter harms wildlife printed on the top.

Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom and there are lots of easy ways to help. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Of course don’t drop any litter. If you see litter and can safely pick it up, please dispose of it responsibly.
  • Hedgehogs often nest in hedgerows or undergrowth where lots of litter is found, and can be vulnerable to daytime litter picking, especially in the breeding season (peak time May to September but they can have hoglets earlier or later than this) when mums can easily abandon their hoglets if disturbed. So be really careful when picking up litter in hedgerows or areas of long grass.
  • If you have a problem with rubber bands being dropped outside your house or on the street, BHPS have a “post for posties” campaign. Contact BHPS for stickers to go on your own letter box, posters to be displayed and postcards to send to your local post office, all to remind your posties not to drop rubber bands.
  • Create 13cm x 13cm square gaps in your boundary fence as a ‘hedgehog highway’ and ask your neighbours to do the same, then plot them on the BIG Hedgehog Map
  • Offer a good quality (high protein) meaty hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food, or some cat biscuits alongside a bowl of water at night.
  • Make your garden wildlife friendly – stop using slug pellets, pesticides or poisons and leave one corner or edge “a bit wild”.
  • Create a log pile in your garden, this will provide natural shelter and food – don’t disturb it. Or consider putting out a hedgehog house – you can make your own or buy a ready-made one.
  • Ask everyone you know to check for hedgehogs before strimming or mowing. Check compost heaps before sticking a big fork in there too!
  • If you’ve got a pond, make sure hedgehogs can get out if they fall in. Ideally create sloping edges or failing that provide ramps or steps up.
  • Why not become a Hedgehog Champion? Hedgehog Street is run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society in partnership with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species. Just go to the website and sign up – it’s free to join and you’ll get access to lots of hedgehog information and can opt into a monthly email update.
  • If you see any hedgehogs out during the day looking lethargic, wobbly, injured or covered in flies, they need urgent help. Get them indoors into a big deep box. Keep them somewhere calm and quiet until you can get help (they should get to a rescue asap). Put an old towel in the box and ideally a warm wrapped hot water bottle (ensure it’s warm all the time) – with enough space so that they have room to get off the hot water bottle if they get too hot. Offer meaty cat, dog or hedgehog food and water (don’t force feed). Call the B.H.P.S. on 01584 890801 for contact details for your nearest hedgehog rescue.

For further hedgehog information check out the B.H.P.S website or find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or e-mail us on