What can I tell you about the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) that you will not already know? One of our best known and most loved of animals, most of us will have been familiar with the hedgehog from our earliest days. When I was young Rag, Tag and Bobtail were big on 'Watch with Mother' a children's television programme. Rag was the hedgehog!
Nowhere near as common as they once were I rarely see one these days. Quite often we see their calling card on the lawn but that is about it. They were also once frequently seen squashed on the road but that does not seem such a common sight these days either. There is no doubt hedgehog numbers, like many of or native wildlife species, are definitely falling and research to find out why continues. There is a suggestion that our tendency to put six-foot wooden panels around our gardens is restricting movement of hedgehogs and affecting their ability to find food and a mate. Early results from trials with holes cut in panels to allow movement between gardens is showing positive results and may be something we should all be considering (in conjunction with our neighbours of course).
One of only two true hibernating mammals in the UK (the other is the dormouse) they emerge from their deep sleep in early spring and are desperate for food. Normally nocturnal, when they first wake up they can be seen by day, just like this one, rummaging around for something to eat, especially after rain. A gardeners friend, they consume vast numbers of slugs and snails as part of a varied diet and should be encouraged. If you find a hungry one they are quite keen on cat food I believe!