Everyone loves the humble hedgehog, unfortunately they are starting to become endangered. We talk to Michel Birkenwald about how the British public can help its prickly friends.
"Hedgehog's, why can't they just share the hedge?" – Dan Antopolski
Everyone loves a hedgehog, the adorable mouse/pin cushion hybrid you sometimes see snuffling around the foot of your garden. It is alarming then to see the rate at which these charming creatures are declining in number. Ecologists have marked a reduction in hedgehog numbers by a third in only a 30 year period. As animal activist and hedgehog campaigner Michel Birkenwald points out, this is particularly upsetting when you consider they have been around much longer than we have.
"The Hedgehog comes from an ancient family. Fossils suggest that Hedgehog-like creatures have been on earth for about 15 million years. It is so hugely sad that it has only taken 30 years for a third of the British Hedgehog population to disappear. We need to take responsibility for our environment, otherwise there will be nothing left."
Fortunately Michel has a number of small changes the British public can make to their gardens to help the little critters out.
"This is the time of year when our little friends are coming out of hibernation. Let's help them by providing a shallow dish of fresh water as well as food such as meat based pet food or specialist hedgehog food. Also remember to leave a small hole in fences so they can come and go. Let's build The Great South West London Hedgehog Highway!"
"Please make sure you drive carefully in the evening as well. If hedgehogs see or hear a car, they tend to roll up to protect themselves, but sadly it's no protection against a machine."
As well as careful driving and some small adjustments at home, there are other ways you can help hedgehogs out – The British Hedgehog Society needs your help with its huge interactive digital map of the countries hedgehog sightings.
"I would like to invite South West London residents to participate in the Hedgehog Watch and register online your sightings of live or dead hedgehogs with the British Hedgehogs Society National Map. Send the information to www.bighedgehogmap.org"
"Hedgehogs need our help to survive, so please let's do something about it!"
Looking for more animal stories? Take a look at our interview with the super vet Noel Fitzpatrick