We're really lucky here in Milton Keynes as you can find Hedgehogs throughout the city. Hedgehogs live in a variety of habitats such as woodland, gardens, farmland and grassland.
As their name suggests, they love hedges as they provide shelter. At home you may find hedgehogs living in your garden hedge or hiding in long grass. In the late Autumn and Winter months they could even be hibernating under a pile of logs or leaves so be careful not to disturb them!
Hedgehogs are nocturnal mammals, coming out at night to feed. They are active between March and October each year, and then hibernate during the chilly winter months. Warmer winter weather can wake hedgehogs up out of hibernation, so be sure to give them some food if you
catch them out during this season. Keep reading for hog-friendly suggestions!
Hedgehogs need your help
Hedgehogs need our help. Since 2002 as much as 30% of the UK hedgehog population has been lost. The species is now considered ‘vulnerable to extinction’ according to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS, July 2020) with fewer than a million in Britain today. To put that in to some context the numbers of hedgehogs were around 30 million in the 1950’s. Changes to farmland have reduced their habitats and left them without much to eat. Hedgehogs have had to move into the cities and towns, making urban gardens and parks their new homes.
The parks in Milton Keynes appear to support a good population of hedgehogs, but The Parks Trust is working to improve the habitat for hogs in the wider landscape. Take a look below for ways you can help Hedgehogs at home.
How to make your garden hog-friendly
- Create Hedgehog highways - cutting a 13cm x 13cm hole in your fence or digging a channel underneath will allow hedgehogs to move between gardens.
- Avoid the use of pesticides - slug pellets and pesticides are toxic for Hedgehogs. Hedgehogs provide their own form of pest control by eating lots of unwanted insects, so encourage
them into your garden instead.
- Make water safe - hedgehogs can swim well but struggle to get out of steep-sided ponds, so
provide a ramp or create shallow areas for them to climb out.
- Provide nesting sites - keep your garden a bit scruffy around the edges to allow for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate in piles of leaves, logs and long grass.
- Help the hogs stay safe - check for hedgehogs before lighting bonfires, or cutting long grass. Keep garden netting and household rubbish above ground level to prevent the hogs getting trapped.
- During the cold or dry weather hedgehogs benefit from having a bit of extra food as the mini-beasts they rely on become scarce. You can feed them a diet of meat-based wet dog or cat foods, or specially made hedgehog food. You could also provide a shallow dish of water. for drinking Milk is NOT suitable for hedgehogs as they are allergic to milk.
How can you help hedgehogs in Milton Keynes?
Join MK Hogwatch
Hedgehogs have lost much of their natural habitat and food sources and you are now more likely to see a hedgehog in an urban setting rather than in the countryside. But are hedgehogs surviving in MK?
MK Hogwatch (MKHW) is a project created by The Parks Trust to find out. The Parks Trust’s biodiversity team need your help to record hedgehog numbers using footprint survey tunnels. By finding out more about where hedgehogs are and aren't doing well in MK, we can help work to raise awareness and promote habitat creation and protection so local populations flourish.
Would your school, community, adult or youth group like to be part of the 2021 MKHW project and help to build up an accurate picture of the numbers of hedgehogs in Milton Keynes? Organise a session with our Outdoor Learning team to find out more about the project; if you're a community group click here, or if you're a primary school click here.