Hedgehogs on the Allotments

Louise Lees, one of our plotholders, has written this excellent article on how we can help hedgehogs

Helping Hedgehogs on the Allotments.

Calling all allotment holders! Have you seen a hedgehog on the allotments? If so, I would love to hear from you! Even if there have been no actual sightings of hogs on the allotments, there is a good chance that they are present and it would be great to hear about your sightings.
As a Hedgehog Champion for Hedgehog Street, a scheme run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species, I am passionate about trying to improve the lot of hedgehogs in my neighbourhood and it is in this capacity that I have written this small piece for the Allotment Society website.
Since the 1950s the UK hedgehog population has been declining and surveys by several leading wildlife organisations indicate that we appear to have lost over half our hedgehogs from our countryside since the millennium alone and have lost a third from our towns and cities.


Image from the hedgehog street website: https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/about-hedgehogs
Whether as allotment plot holders, or as gardeners, we can all play a part in aiding the recovery of these wonderful creatures and here’s how:-

• Avoid garden chemicals where possible. Slug pellets are not to be used unless the container states that they are safe for hedgehogs. Pellets base on metaldehyde can prove fatal to hedgehogs that consume poisoned slugs and also reduce the insects and molluscs that form the bulk of the hedgehog’s diet.
• Always check areas of long grass and vegetation before strimming. Strimmers can seriously maim or kill hedgehogs and other creatures such as Slowworms.
• Be careful when turning your compost heap in case a hedgehog or slowworm is in residence!
• Always check piles of wood and brash before lighting bonfires. If the pile has been there for a while, you may have a resident hedgehog.
• Tie down fruit and vegetable netting securely and make sure it is taut. Hedgehogs and birds can get tangled in netting and may injure themselves or starve before they are discovered.
• Avoid leaving rubbish around your plot. Pieces of wire, plastic or glass can injure hedgehogs and other wildlife.I have rescued a starving hedgehog with its head jammed in an empty yoghurt pot (Bob Gomes)
• Provide a small, shallow bowl of clean water from which animals can drink.
• If you can, provide a small area of long grass and wildflowers within the boundaries of your plot or strim less around the plot to attract invertebrates that provide food for hedgehogs and birds. You will be rewarded as these creatures will consume common pests and a natural order will be established.

• Above all, enjoy your allotment and its wildlife!

There is also a link to the Hedgehog Street website:-  http://www.hedgehogstreet.org where you can find all manner of helpful resources on how to help hedgehogs and you can also report your hedgehog sightings on this interactive map:- https://bighedgehogmap.org/map-your-hedgehog-sighting

Thank you, Louise Lees lmlees@gmail.com