Are Hedgehogs Native To The UK?
Hedgehogs are undeniably a beloved species throughout the British Isles and have even been declared the national species of the UK. Despite their iconic status, many people are unsure whether hedgehogs are actually native to the UK or whether they were introduced to the UK at some point.
The History Of Hedgehogs In The UK
Hedgehogs have been sighted in the UK as early as the 16th century. Even back then they appear to have been widely distributed through England, Wales and Scotland.
Variations In Hedgehog Populations
Hedgehog populations tend to vary across Britain because of changing environmental conditions, such as weather and land-use. As a result, the hedgehog population in the UK has drastically declined since the 1940s, with estimates suggesting that the population has dropped by at least half since 1995.
Humans have inadvertently affected hedgehog populations, as urbanisation and increased road traffic have caused the destruction and fragmentation of the hedgehog’s natural habitat. Additionally, the use of pesticides on farms has led to a decrease in hedgehog numbers.
What Can Be Done?
There are a few things that can be done to help hedgehogs:
- Creating hedgehog highways – long grass strips connecting two habitats in a diagonal line – can help hedgehogs to travel unrecognised across roads.
- Leaving out water and food or setting up a hedgehog hotel in your garden can provide hedgehogs with additional sources of food.
- Not using pesticides or poisons in your garden can help create a safe environment for hedgehogs.
In conclusion, hedgehogs are indeed indigenous to the UK and have been sighted in this country since the 16th century. Due to human intervention, their population has decreased drastically since the 1940s, however, there are some simple things that we can do to help hedgehogs and to ensure their successful conservation.