We’ve handed over to one of our Hedgehog Friendly Campus members, 1st year Zoology student Hazel Dudley, who has provided an ‘introduction to hedgehogs’ for those who are interested in finding out more!
Hedgehogs are one of Britain’s most iconic and charming mammals. Hedgehogs are commonly found in fields, hedgerows, woods and gardens. However, due to habitat destruction from farming and urban development, the number of hedgehogs across Britain has experienced a sharp decline. Like much of our wildlife, as urban areas are expanding, hedgehogs are adapting to urban living. In fact, according to a recent study, many urban areas have higher hedgehog populations than the surrounding countryside. The Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign is dedicated to creating the perfect home for Sheffield’s urban hedgehogs, right in the heart of the university campus.
Hedgehogs can grow up to 30cm long and weigh up to 1900g. They are mainly active at dusk and at night, so this is the perfect time to spot them wandering around gardens in search of a snack. However, Hedgehogs are normally only seen from May until October, as they hibernate during winter because there is too little food available during that time. During hibernation, a hedgehog’s body temperature can fall to less than 10°C, its heart slows to fewer than 20 beats a minute and it virtually stops breathing. This helps the hedgehog to save energy until the spring.
A hedgehog’s favourite foods include beetles, caterpillars, and earthworms. This makes them very useful to gardeners, as they eat many garden pests. If you see a hedgehog which needs help, you can feed it tinned dog or cat food (not fish-based), minced meat, chopped liver, or scrambled egg. Be careful not to put out a saucer of bread and milk for them because this can be harmful as their stomach cannot digest bread, and cow’s milk can cause stomach upsets.
Hedgehogs give birth in June and July, and they have an average litter size of four or five young.These baby hedgehogs are called hoglets. Baby hedgehogs are born without spines and have pink bellies and faces with grey outer fur. Spines emerge shortly after birth, and similarly to human hair, hedgehogs shed their spines throughout their life. Three to four weeks after being born, hoglets go on foraging trips with their mother. After around ten days of foraging with their mother the hoglets will wander off on their own.
The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust have created a map of hedgehog sightings in and around Sheffield. Follow this link to explore where hedgehogs have been seen in Sheffield’s local area.
If you want to find out more about hedgehogs and be involved with helping our spikey friends on campus, follow our Facebook page or email Johann at email@example.com to join the Hedgehog Friendly Campus @ Sheffield mailing list.