Hedgehogs are declining at an alarming rate

Sadly, hedgehogs aren’t as abundant as they used to be, having declined by 25 per cent in the last 10 years alone. This is mainly due to habitat loss, including loss of hedgerows and routine use of pesticides, but the way we garden may also be playing a part in their demise.

Hedgehog’s hibernate from November to March, so they’re emerging from hibernation around now. Here are 7 ways that you can help the plight of the hedgehog:

Create holes under your garden fences: impenetrable gardens are one of the main reasons why hedgehogs are in decline

Provide a safe route out of your pond with a well-placed ramp or pile of stones

Avoid using slug pellets or, if you have to, use a wildlife-friendly brand without the ingredient metaldehyde, and follow the instructions on the packet. Remove any dead slugs and snails as soon as you find them

Raise pea and bean netting well off the ground so hedgehogs can travel beneath it without becoming trapped

Avoid emptying your compost bin during winter or summer – April is the optimum time to avoid disturbing a hedgehog as it should have emerged from hibernation but not yet started breeding

Provide extra food such as meaty dog or cat food, and a shallow dish of water for them – especially now when they’re emerging from hibernation, during spells of dry weather and in autumn. Never give hedgehogs bread and milk. This can dehydrate them and make them very ill

Always check bonfires before lighting them. If you can, it’s best to dismantle the pile and completely rebuild it before lighting

If you see a hedgehog during the day it’s never a good sign. Call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for advice. www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk