The hedgehog is a familiar inhabitant of our town parks, gardens, cemeteries, railway banks and waste ground. Suburban gardens, in particular, provide the hedgehog with an ideal summer and winter home under compost heaps, behind hedges, and tucked away in odd comers. Its small size and nocturnal movements make it inconspicuous, so much so that people have these spiny creatures in their gardens without even realising it. They find plenty of food, such as worms, slugs and beetles in gardens. They will also eat bread left out for birds and milk left out for cats.
Gardeners may be doing themselves and the hedgehogs a serious disservice by using artiﬁcial means of getting rid of pests, rather than relying on the natural resources of the hedgehog to do the job. The use of various pesticides results in the slow poisoning of invertebrates, which are then eaten by hedgehogs. They in turn accumulate small doses of poison which build up in the fat deposits laid down during the autumn in readiness for hibernation. As the animals eke out their fat reserves over the winter, the poison is released, and many hedgehogs must surely suffer as a result.
Yours in Nature
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Written by Tony Kilcommons
Published here 24 Oct 2022 and originally published 1995
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