Hedgehogs win the hearts of people in East Cambs

Hedgehogs have found their way into the hearts of East Cambridgeshire’s residents, young and old.

In a public vote, they have been chosen as the endangered animal residents would most like East Cambridgeshire District Council to support over the coming year.

Hundreds of people attending the council’s recent Youth Fusion events, as well as at the Ely Green Fair and a one-off market stall in Ely, voted in the polls which also featured otters, bats, toads, owls and bees to choose from.

All six animals received a healthy number of votes, but our spiky friends, which have seen their numbers fall by as much as 60 per cent in the East of England over the last 30 years, came out on top.

It means the council can now kick-start a hedgehog action plan which will include helping to raise public awareness and working with schools.

The council will also look at how its own premises, such as Ely Country Park, can be made more hog-friendly and provide support to organisations, such as parish councils and community groups to help create hedgehog-friendly habitats.

The action plan will also explore how the council can work with housing developers and social housing providers to incorporate measures such as “hedgehog highways” when building or renovating homes.

Congratulations also go to 11-year-old Adara from Littleport (pictured), who chose the winning name “Prickles” to give to the hedgehog who will be fronting East Cambridgeshire District Council’s campaign.

11 year old Adara from Littleport

Emma Danielsson, the council’s Climate Change and Natural Environment Officer, said: “I am really pleased hedgehogs won. As well as being undeniably cute and endearing they really need our help!

“The East of England has seen one of the biggest declines in hedgehog populations over the last 30 years, this is largely down to destruction of their habitats.

“This can be through using pesticides, the destruction of hedgerows and the fact many cannot access gardens because fencing gets in the way. There are also threats from cars, strimmers, chemicals, bonfires and badgers.

“It is not surprising that we are worried, and that East Cambridgeshire’s residents voted them top of the list in need of our help. 

“The fantastic news is that by taking a few simple measures we can all help increase their chances of survival in rural and urban areas.

“Easy things everyone can do include creating hedgehog doors in fences to ensure hedgehogs can move from garden to garden and providing a nesting box for them to hibernate in over the coming winter.”

Emma is also encouraging residents to log hedgehog sightings at the Big Hedgehog Map (external link). Last year only 56 hedgehogs were recorded on the map in East Cambridgeshire. The council hopes with its support that number will soon rise.

Cllr Julia Huffer, environmental champion at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Firstly, I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone, especially the young people, who took the time to vote in our endangered species poll and learn more about our local animals in need of support. Hedgehogs desperately need our help and I for one will be making sure I have a hedgehog house in my garden this winter.

“We will be doing lots of exciting projects with community groups and at a more serious planning policy level to try and halt the decline of our prickly friends. I would encourage anyone who wants to get involved to visit our website or social media channels for more information.

“This isn’t a short term project, but a long term plan to reverse the decline in hedgehogs, and hopefully see them return to numbers we once saw.

More information is available on the hedgehog pages of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s website.

Hedgehog facts:

  • The number of hedgehogs have declined by as much as 60% in the East of England since 1990s
  • Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant – don’t give them milk! Put out dog or cat food instead
  • The hedgehog's only serious predator is the badger.
  • Hedgehogs may roam a mile each night to find enough food
  • Hedgehogs are the UK’s only spiny mammal
  • Hedgehogs usually hibernate from October/November through to March/April. 

What you can do:

  • Create hedgehog doors so you can link your garden with hedgehog highways
  • Report any sightings at the Big Hedgehog Map (external link)
  • Put out clean, fresh water and cat biscuits or hedgehog food
  • Leave areas to grow to provide space for them to forage
  • Avoid slug pellets at all costs
  • Be careful with bonfires
  • Make ponds safe with a ramp