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Would you like to become a ‘Hedgehog Champion’ and see what your prickly friends get up to ‘After Dark?’

Would you like to become a ‘Hedgehog Champion’ and see what your prickly friends get up to ‘After Dark?’

by Danielle Thompson (May 2020)

Would you like to become a ‘Hedgehog Champion’ and see what your prickly friends get up to ‘After Dark?’

Hedgehog Street, a nationwide campaign set up by wildlife charities the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), to halt the ongoing decline in native hedgehogs, has launched ‘Hedgehogs After Dark this’ week.

This exciting new citizen science initiative asks Hedgehog Champions across the UK to record hedgehog behaviours. Over the course of several weeks, Hedgehog Champions are being encouraged to carefully observe hedgehogs at a distance in their gardens, recording all the different behaviours they see. This will allow conservationists to discover, and better understand, the hidden lives of the UK’s hedgehogs this summer.

Following Hedgehog Awareness Week 202, Hedgehogs After Dark starts this week and will run until Sunday, July 26.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal mammals, so as the name suggests, the aim of this project is to record what hedgehogs are up to in the evening, when they are most active. So if, at dusk and after dark, you spot behaviours such as: feeding or drinking; travelling across a garden (or even better using a Hedgehog Highway); swimming in a pond; mating; grooming or nesting, Hedgehog Street wants to hear about it!

Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street explains: “We know gardens are vital habitats for hedgehogs, but we’d like to understand exactly how hedgehogs are using them. To do this, we need the public’s help to tell us about any behaviours they spot, which will enable us learn even more about hedgehogs, and how we can best conserve them further. Lockdown is a great opportunity to watch, connect with and help our wildlife, so if you’re lucky enough to see a hedgehog in your garden, we’d love to hear about it and to find out what he or she is up to!”

Hedgehog Champions (members of the public who have pledged to help hedgehogs by making small changes to their gardens), can start logging any behaviours seen from this week. Those who aren’t already a Hedgehog Champion but want to take part, can sign up (for free) online at Hedgehog Street. Participants can then record what they see in their garden on the Hedgehogs After Dark behaviour log and are encouraged to keep watch over the summer to report any new or repeat behaviours.

Those who take part in Hedgehogs After Dark will have the opportunity to win a free Hedgehog Hamper, crammed full of hedgehog goodies!

You can upload photos to social media using #HedgehogsAfterDark, and if you have a wildlife camera in your garden, you can upload your best videos to the Hedgehogs After Dark behaviour log too.

Learning more about the hidden lives of hedgehogs could really help this much loved species. The latest State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report, published in 2018 by BHPS and PTES, revealed that 50% of rural hedgehog populations and 30% of urban hedgehog populations have been lost since 2000. Tidy, fenced in gardens in urban areas and loss of hedgerows and intensification of agriculture in rural areas are just some of the factors contributing to this decline.

Hedgehog Street is working to combat these factors where possible, by encouraging people to make small hedgehog-friendly changes to their own gardens, which could make all the difference. To date, over 76,000 Hedgehog Champions across the UK have registered to help the nation’s favourite mammal, but more help is always needed.

To take part in Hedgehogs After Dark, visit: www.hedgehogstreet.org/Hedgehogs-After-Dark and to access top tips and FAQs on how to further help hedgehogs, download the Hedgehog Street app for free or visit: www.hedgehogstreet.org.

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