Urban hedgehog (credit Tom Marshall)
London's hedgehogs are in trouble, with the city's population falling by nearly a third in ten years. We need to act fast to reverse this decline, but we can only do this with your help.
In the 1950s there were around 30 million hedgehogs in Britain, but today the number is less than one million. In London, these spiky beetle-eating mammals have virtually disappeared from many parts of the capital, with only one last breeding population currently recorded in central London.
We're now calling on everyone in London to help us reverse this shocking decline, and ensure our hedgehogs can continue to live in the city for decades to come. With a few simple steps, we can all do our bit to help.
One of our biggest priorities is recording where hedgehogs live in London, so we can build an accurate picture of where our help is most needed. As part of our 'Urban Urchins' project we are asking Londoners, if they have seen a hedgehog at any time and in any part of the capital, to fill in our online form and record their sighting! These sightings will then be added to our hedgehog population map.
The map below shows where hedgehogs have been recorded over the last 20 years in London. This only shows where people have been recording and reporting hedgehogs, but we know there are lots more out there, and we're hoping you can tell us where they are, so we can make sure they get the best protection possible!
The above map only shows where hedgehogs have been recorded in London, and may not present an accurate representation of where they live, because not all sightings are recorded. Our aim is to create a more accurate map by encouraging more people to record their hedgehog sightings.
What's caused hedgehogs to decline in the capital?
- Lifeless gardens: increased paving, artifical lawns, decking, and tidier and less natural gardens in general, all contribute to the loss of London's hedgehog habitat;
- Barriers to movement: more fences and busier roads make it harder for hedgehogs to hunt for food - and find a mate - while also making movement more dangerous;
- Decline in prey: with falls in the numbers of many of the small animals that hedgehogs eat, such as beetles and slugs (caused in large part by the use of pesticides and slug pellets), there is an inevitable knock-on effect.
We know that creating a city with healthy, connected wildlife habitats is the essential first step in helping our local hedgehog population recover. But we can't do it alone - everyone who lives in London has a part to play.
Ten simple steps to helping hedgehogs in London
- In gardens or community spaces, create habitats such as rough grassland, scrub, hedges, shallow ponds, log piles and compost heaps;
- Create 'hedgehog highways' by simply cutting a hedgehog-sized hole (13x13cm) in your fences;
- Build a hedgehog home, using a waterproof box and organic material, where hedgehogs can hibernate in winter;
- Let your garden grow wild to encourage slugs and beetles and other tasty insects;
- Set up a feeding station offering meaty pet food and water;
- Remove litter, which harms all kinds of wildlife;
- Keep domestic drains covered, as hedgehogs can fall into them and get stuck;
- Check bonfires before lighting, ideally building them on the same day they are lit;
- Keep your green areas green by avoiding paving, decking, and artificial lawns
- Support our work helping hedgehogs by becoming a member of London Wildlife Trust.
A booklet explaining in more detail how to help hedgehogs can be downloaded here.