Wareham group is helping to make Dorset the first UK Hedgehog Friendly County!
Wareham hedgehogs started coming out of hibernation in March, and many of you will have noticed their activities and heard their snuffling sounds at dusk and during the night. As you may know, the Dorset Mammal Group is aiming to reverse the decline of the hedgehog population in Dorset by developing towns and villages into hedgehog friendly habitats. They are encouraging residents to develop hedgehog friendly streets by making holes in, or under, their garden fences and walls for hedgehogs to pass through.
Wareham is one of the towns and villages where groups have been set up to make Dorset the UK’s first hedgehog friendly county.
The Wareham group was formed in 2018 and meets on an ad hoc basis. We have had films, slide shows and lectures but mainly we like to get together to share hedgehog stories. We collect data of hedgehog sightings – even the tragic cases where they have been run over or attacked by a dog or fox. This helps us to map where their habitats are. We have reports of regular sightings in Sandford, Northmoor, Carey, Worgret Road area and also within Wareham Walls. Further afield, there are sightings in the Trigon area and East Stoke.
There are a number of ways that you can help hedgehogs.
Gardens: Leave a wild area for them to snuffle around for food. They like to find a pile of debris and sticks to hide under during the day. During the summer take care when using strimmers or mowers in longer grass, this is another place they may take cover in the day time. They may find safe refuge under your shed. Please do not use slug pellets.
Feeding: If you would like to feed them, avoid peanuts, sunflower seeds, bread, milk or mealworms. The best way to help them is to feed them cat biscuits, dog biscuits, tinned dog meat (not gravy based), or hedgehog food from the Pet Shop. Feeding them is particularly useful in the autumn to help the young ones put on enough weight for hibernation.
Water: A really good way to help them, particularly during dry periods, is to leave water out for them. If you have a garden pond, create a hedgehog board walk, or use stones so that they can easily get in and out of the pond.
Behaviour: It is unusual to see a hedgehog out in daylight. If you do see one, take a few moments to assess the circumstances. Is it dawn or dusk? If it is moving with purpose, it might just be late finding cover for the day. If it does look sick, injured, wobbly or lethargic then best to take it to the vet or a rescue centre.
Let me know if you would like to be added to my e-mail distribution list to receive information about Hedgehog Events in Wareham. This year we are hoping to run some Hedgehog-Welfare Awareness events to raise funds for hedgehog care approaches in Dorset. If you would like to find out more, we would love to hear from you.
Kate Brailsford, Wareham Hedgehog Co-ordinator