Hedgehogs in the UK, known for their adorable faces and unmistakable snuffling sounds, are facing the threat of climate change that has a direct impact on their feeding habits, habitats and hibernation patterns. A rise in temperature is leading to earlier flowering of plants that can result in less food for hedgehogs. Frequent natural disasters such as floods and wildfires also destroy hedgehogs’ habitats, and warmer, milder winters mean that hedgehogs are being thrown off their usual hibernation time frame or not hibernating at all. To help hedgehogs, people can provide a sheltered spot to hibernate, create a hedgehog-friendly environment and reduce the use of pesticides. Several organizations work to protect hedgehogs, and other wildlife species, from climate change and other threats, such as loss of habitat due to urbanisation and intensive agriculture, road traffic accidents and exposure to pesticides.
Are Hedgehogs Affected by Climate Change?
Hedgehogs are one of the most popular wildlife species across the UK. The small, spiny creatures are known for their adorable faces and unmistakable snuffling sounds. However, like many other species, hedgehogs are facing the threat of climate change.
Climate change is the gradual increase in average global temperatures due to human activities, such as deforestation, industrialisation, and the use of fossil fuels. This change in temperature has a direct impact on many animal species, including hedgehogs.
How does climate change affect hedgehogs?
The impact of climate change on hedgehogs can be seen in several ways. Firstly, the warmer temperatures are leading to the earlier flowering of plants, which directly affects the feeding habits of hedgehogs. Their normal diet includes insects and small invertebrates, which often feed on the flowers of plants. With less food, hedgehogs may struggle to find enough to eat, especially during the winter months when they need to build up fat reserves.
Secondly, climate change can also alter hedgehog habitats. Rising temperatures can cause a change in vegetation patterns and can cause the death of some plant species, which in turn affects the availability of food and shelter for hedgehogs. Additionally, more frequent and extreme natural disasters such as floods and wildfires, may destroy hedgehogs’ natural habitats altogether.
Finally, hedgehogs hibernate during the winter months, and the timing of their hibernation is controlled by temperature and day length. However, with the milder winters that are being experienced due to climate change, hedgehogs are being thrown off their usual schedule, either hibernating later in the year or not hibernating at all. This can cause serious issues for their survival.
What can we do to help hedgehogs?
There are several ways that we can help hedgehogs in the face of climate change. Hedgehogs face multiple threats to their survival, from loss of habitat due to urbanisation and intensive agriculture, to road traffic accidents and exposure to pesticides. We can all do our bit to make sure that hedgehogs have the best chance possible of surviving.
Some simple steps that anyone can take include providing hedgehogs with a sheltered spot to hibernate or nest. This could be as simple as leaving a pile of leaves or a log pile in a corner of our gardens. Creating a hedgehog-friendly environment is also essential, plant species such as brambles and hedges provide food and shelter.
Furthermore, it is vital to reduce the use of pesticides in our gardens, as these can be harmful to all species, including hedgehogs. Also, leave a gap in fencing to allow hedgehogs to enter and exit, and avoid using slug pellets to protect plants, as these can be lethal to hedgehogs.
In addition to these steps, supporting conservation efforts can help to protect hedgehogs, and other wildlife species, from climate change and other threats. Several organisations work to protect wildlife habitats and lobby the government to take stronger action on climate change, yet there is still much to do, and it is our duty to take action as individuals, and as a society.
Q: How do hedgehogs adapt to changing climate conditions?
A: Hedgehogs are adaptable creatures and can adjust to changing conditions. However, with rapidly changing climate conditions, their ability to adapt may be limited.
Q: What is the impact of urbanisation on the hedgehog population?
A: Urbanisation can have a major impact on hedgehog populations. This is because their natural habitat is destroyed, and they often struggle to find enough food.
Q: Can hedgehogs survive in captivity?
A: Hedgehogs can survive in captivity, but it is only recommended in certain situations, such as when they are being rehabilitated after an injury. Hedgehogs are wild animals and are best left to their natural habitats.
Q: What can I do if I find a sick or injured hedgehog?
A: If you find a sick or injured hedgehog, the best thing to do is to contact a wildlife rehabilitation centre. These centres specialise in caring for injured or sick wildlife and can help to nurse them back to health.
Q: How can I help support hedgehog conservation efforts?
A: There are several ways to support hedgehog conservation efforts. These include volunteering at a wildlife rescue centre, lobbying the government to take stronger action on climate change, and donating to hedgehog conservation charities.