Hibernating Animals Post & Go
Dormice, bats, snakes and hedgehogs are the only animals in the UK which hibernate. This extended period of sleep reduces their metabolic rate and so enables them to survive the winter season when food is scarce.
Many people dislike or are scared of snakes and bats and would probably prefer them to hibernate year round! But the humble hedgehog is one of our most popular native species. Sadly, hedgehogs are struggling and their numbers have dropped by a disturbing 30% in the last ten years. But why is the hedgehog in such severe decline?
The Demise of the Hedgehog
You won’t be surprised to hear that it is we humans who are at fault. The hedgerow is the hedgehog’s natural habitat but hedgerows have been removed from the countryside at an alarming rate. Urbanisation has also taken its toll.
Most urban gardens are bordered by fences and walls which prevent hedgehogs from roaming to find food. The pesticides used in agriculture and our gardens are killing the creatures that make up hedgehogs’ natural diet. To make matters worse, many hedgehogs are killed every year when they get run over by cars.
Hedgehogs used to be a common site in gardens but not anymore. If you would like to help these popular creatures to thrive, then you can by making your property more hedgehog friendly. Here’s what you need to do:
- As hedgehogs need to roam in order to find food, it will help immensely if you and your neighbours cut holes in your fences or dig channels under your walls. This will create a hedgehog super highway!
- You should stop using chemical pesticides in your garden as these kill off the invertebrates that hedgehogs eat. If you have hedgehogs in your garden, they will clear up the pests for you!
- If there is a pond in your garden, make it hedgehog safe by providing ramps to enable the animals to climb out. Many hedgehogs drown each year because they enter the water in steep sided ponds and are then unable to climb out again.
- It helps if you create good nesting sites by featuring piles of logs and leaves in your garden. You are also able to invest in purpose built hedgehog homes.
- You should grow a wide variety of plants to attract more invertebrates and let some areas of grass grow wild.
- You can also set up a feeding station for the hedgehogs. This can be as simple as a plastic storage box with a hole cut in it. Weigh down the lid with stones or bricks to prevent cats and foxes from stealing the food. You can purchase prorietary hedgehog food but cat food, dog food and chopped eggs are good alternatives. Always provide a source of fresh water too.
The Stamp Issue
The Royal Mail Post and Go Hibernating Animals stamp set is used 14 November and includes four 56mm x 25mm stamps. These feature the dormouse, grass snake, brown long-eared bat and, of course, the hedgehog.
Which of these hibernating animals have you seen in your garden recently?