In early April, we released seven Hedgehogs with a wildlife rehabilitator who had overwintered them in captivity due to being too underweight to survive hibernation. Three had come from an area where their habitat had been cleared and was now unsuitable for Spring release, and the remaining four had been handed in to vet clinics with no record taken of where they were found.
As part our our Ealing Hedgehog Highways project we’ve been improving local habitat features in the surrounding area anyway, and so asked the committee and plot holders on Framfield Allotments to become more Hedgehog-friendly as a trial in how we can engage the allotment community with Hedgehog conservation across the borough. We also focused our efforts on connecting the allotments and surrounding gardens to existing Hedgehog habitats via a network of ‘Hedgehog Highways’. Drilling and cutting holes in the allotments’ and surrounding gardens’ perimeter fences and walls to allow them to disperse naturally and more easily. Hedgehogs need to visit up to 20-30 gardens in a single evening sometimes, depending on habitat quality and food availability. In this area of Hanwell alone our dedicated volunteer team have created over 60 new highway connections.
To give the hogs a helping hand and get them started back to a life in the wild in unfamiliar surroundings we used a semi-soft release technique. Giving them several feeding stations on the allotments that they were free to enter and leave, with fresh bedding, food and water that cats and foxes could not access. And it’s worked. We placed trail cameras to monitor their usage, and looks like our Hedgehogs are enjoying the supplemental feeding. But exploring farther afield too with some sightings coming in from neighbouring streets. It’s hoped in time that these individuals will fully adapt back to life in the wild and help boost the local Hedgehog population, bridging the gap between existing populations informed by our partnership with ZSL London Zoo on their London Hogwatch camera survey carried out last year.
If you would like to help Hedgehogs in your area there are many things you can do. Read more on our Hedgehogs conservation project page.