Hedgehog Highways

Hedgehogs are declining in Britain and need our help. A third of urban hedgehogs have been lost since the millennium. The cause of their decline is complicated and it seems that several factors are at play.

PTES and BHPS have produced the only comprehensive summary of the hedgehog’s population trends in the UK. It is called The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report.

The report analyses all current hedgehog survey data from across the sector including data from RSPB, BTO and PTES robust mammal surveys.

In the past decade we have lost over a half of rural hedgehogs and a third from towns and cities. The decline in towns and cities seems to be slowing, but the situation in the countryside is a real concern. This decline is not sustainable and it could be that we lose our spiky friends for good.

Hedgehog highways

Why Make a Hedgehog Highway?
Even though they are the nation’s favourite animal hedgehogs in the UK are in trouble.

One of the main reasons for this is the secure fencing off of the land they need to roam through.

Though our gardens, equipped with hedgehog houses, food and water, can make perfect hedgehog habitat, one garden is rarely going to be enough for a hedgehog. They need to travel around a mile each night to get the food they need.

So one of the best things you can do to help hedgehogs in your area is to build a hedgehog highway.

What is a Hedgehog Highway?
A hedgehog highway is a series of holes in fences and walls that allow hedgehogs to pass freely between gardens, parks and allotments. Hedgehog highways allow hogs to move around without having to use human roads, which can be very dangerous for them.

How Big Should the Hole Be?
Your hedgehog highway hole should be about 5 inches or 13cm square. This is about the size of a CD case.

Holes should be at ground level. You should make a hole on each side of your garden if you can.

This size hole will let hedgehogs move around freely without letting dogs or small children escape.

How to Make Highway Holes
There are several options for making suitable holes.

Cut a hole in the bottom of your fence.
Remove a brick from the bottom of a wall.
Dig a shallow tunnel under your fence, wall or gate and push a soil pipe through.
Remember to rub down any sharp edges or cover with gaffer tape.

You can also buy hedgehog friendly fencing, which could be a good idea if you are re-fencing your garden.

Hole cut in fence panel. Credit: David Orme

Why do hedgehogs need holes in fences?
Hedgehogs travel around one mile every night through our parks and gardens in their quest to find enough food and a mate. If you have an enclosed garden you might be getting in the way of their plans.

We now know that one of the main reasons why hedgehogs are declining in Britain is because our fences and walls are becoming more and more secure, reducing the amount of land available to them.

We can make their life a little easier by removing the barriers within our control – for example, by making holes in or under our garden fences and walls for them to pass through.

If you are feeling particularly ambitious then the ideal option would be to swap your walls and fences for hedges. Hedges provide privacy whilst letting hedgehogs and other wildlife roam freely. This would provide shelter, food and a route into an out of your garden, not to mention the benefits it would bring to other wildlife such as birds and bees.

Hedgehog friendly gravel board.

Label your Hedgehog Highway with this cool sign
These signs are laser cut from recyled plastic and can be pinned above your hedgehog hole to ensure it is not blocked by anyone accidentally.  These signs are available from our online shop – Hedgehog Highway Sign