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HedgeOX – Saving Oxfordshire’s Hedgehogs

Hugh Warwick, known to all as Hedgehog Hugh, launches an innovative new campaign to save the nation’s favourite animal at Oxford’s Natural History Museum 12th June at 6pm. HedgeOX, funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and the Felix Byam Shaw Foundation, invites all to come along and learn how they can become part of the solution to the problems hedgehogs face.

Ecologist and author Hugh began working on hedgehogs over 30 years ago and has remained passionate and fascinated about them ever since. Working with the Hedgehog Street campaign – the collaboration between the BHPS and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species – he has been at the centre of both research and conservation efforts.

“We know that urban hedgehog numbers are down by 30% in the last 17 years – and that for rural hedgehogs it is even worse, with the population down by 50-75%,” he said. “Hedgehog Street has been helping urban hedgehogs and there it looks like the decline for them is levelling off. Rural hedgehogs present a whole new set of complications that we are now looking at more closely.”

With HedgeOX Hugh has got another mission in mind. “Oxford has been my home now for nearly 25 years now – and the county has a wonderfully diverse set of potentially hedgehog-friendly habitats. Yet the population has fallen as much here as anywhere else. I want to reverse that decline.”

The main work is in over-coming fragmentation – this can mean making sure there are holes in garden fences (the size of a cd case will do) through to encouraging farmers to plant more hedges and allowing the ones that are there the space to grow to make hedgehog highways and habitat.

There is no way he can manage to convert the whole county into a hedgehog-friendly space on his own. So a key aim of HedgeOX is to recruit Hedgehog Heroes from around the county. People who know their own patch and are willing to work with their neighbours to expand the areas within which hedgehogs can thrive. Hugh will be on hand to provide expertise and guidance – and also, given his reputation for energetic and entertaining lectures, recruitment of other volunteers too.

With tongue in cheek he is developing a ‘Hedgehog Roadshow’ that will take to the highways and byways of Oxfordshire in the Autumn – so if you want to get Hugh to visit, drop him a line.

“Hedgehogs are the most amazing, delightful, charismatic and important creature we have in this county,” he said. “You can get close to a hedgehog in a way that you cannot with any other wildlife – and this closeness means we get a chance to look into the eyes of a truly special animal. And once you have done that, got nose-to-nose with a hedgehog – well, there is no turning back! You will have fallen under the spell – and are on the fast-track to becoming one of Oxfordshire’s Hedgehog Heroes.”

A hedgehog from the Little Foxes rescue centre – soon to be released into the wild.

15 thoughts on “HedgeOX

  1. Hi Hugh,

    I just got this warning from Prickles Hedgehog Rescue, which needs sharing, if you can do that. Thanks, Mike:

    “Caution everyone please. Advice is being given that hedgehogs out in the day are Ill. Every other month of the year this would be correct. However, there are many female hedgehogs at this time of year out in the day nest building in preparation for their hoglets. A hungry/thirsty hedgehog will also come out in the day if she has hoglets. Please avoid advising people to pick them up and take to rescue as you could be leaving hoglets to perish. Instead phone your local rescue for advice. Prickles 07806744772. Jules”

  2. P.S. my petition so ban metaldehyde slug pellets is just over 10,000 signatures & I’ve sent it to Michael Gove at DEFRA.

    Cheers, Mike

  3. Really pleased to read this, is there any way we can get the construction companies erecting 1000s of new houses to put in cd holes in the fences they erect?

    • Hi Helen – it is one of the aims I have for HedgeOX – and also one of the aims of Hedgehog Street – to encourage developers to ‘think hedgehog’ in what they do … you can help by talking to all and any you meet!

  4. We saw a hedgehog in our garden in Wallingford on Saturday for the first time in about 8 years which is really encouraging.

  5. I have a hedgehog friendly garden and sometimes see around 4 in my garden in one evening. I have a couple of houses and one feeding station and leave food every night. I also like to set up my camera trap and see how many pop in and out of the feeding station. Just wanted to share this with you to say I LOVE them
    Kind regards

  6. We encourage Hedgehogs ? into our garden with huge success, I am pleased to say that for a few years now several over winter in three houses we purchased for them and they are in sheltered parts of our garden. All year round we feed them, they are a pleasure to watch, some evenings there a five at a time feeding !!!! they cost us a fortune in food, they love dried meal worms and of course we always have plenty of fresh water in place for them too. We feel very passionate about looking after the Hedgehog community and feel blessed that they keep returning to us !!!! We live in Bradwell Village near Burford.
    Brilliant what you are doing, wishing you good luck in encouraging others to help our hedgehogs !!!!

    • many thanks for your kind words, Anne – and for the work you already do. Maybe we could have a chat about me coming over your way to encourage more people to take part? Go easy on the meal worms (save you money and also better for them to have a varied diet) – maybe you could share some photos too! Oh – and data onto would be great!

  7. I live on the edge of a small village. There are no garden fences to obstruct hedgehogs and no hedge removal or field use has occurred here for over twenty years. We always used to have hedgehogs snuffling round our house of an evening, but have not seen one here for about ten years. There are no main roads nearby, so where have they gone?

    • Nationally numbers have plummeted – in the more rural areas the attrition caused by consistent intensive production regimes to invertebrate life is being revealed in reduced hedgehog numbers – coupled with fragmentation of the landscape and the interaction with badgers, there are so many reasons why they will have gone … but there is hope – we have made some progress with urban hedgehogs. Now we are going to try and work with rural ones too.

  8. Lovely project and much needed! We are currently hosting three hedgehogs, a mother and two hoglets, who are living under the woodshed, but we didn’t realise they were here until a couple of weeks ago. Cat food is put out every night and fresh water is always available. One of them has also been nibbling the courgettes, but that’s okay. They did appear to be extremely hungry when we first saw them, (just eating and doing little else) and still eat nearly everything we put out, but they are growing and are much, much livelier than they were to begin with. When we see them now, the hoglets seem quite playful, clambering over the mother and exploring nearby undergrowth. Putting out supplies for them is very much going to be a routine from now on.

  9. Hi Hugh, Sure you are familiar with “Little Silver Hedgehog” rescue centre in York and Emma’s dedicated work? She is losing many hogs to Fluke parasites. Are there any scientists/microbiologists working on a cure for this? Hope Hedge Ox is thriving?
    Many thanks,

    Richard Fiennes

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