Hedgehog hero Gary Snyder, who lives in a suburb northwest of London, was unaware that hedgehogs had taken a liking to his yard until one night when he and his wife heard unusual grunts emanating from outside. Peeking through their window they observed two “hedgies” courting on their property.
Curious about his visitors, Gary did some research and learned that hedgehogs can travel up to a mile each night (they are nocturnal). He realized that the hedgies were unable to roam because his walled-in English garden was impenetrable for the little guys. He began cutting holes in his fence to allow his new friends to come and go as they pleased. He encouraged his neighbors to do the same, allowing the hedgehogs easy passage. Thus began England’s Hedgehog Superhighway. (The official name of the undertaking is The Hedgehog Street Project.)
An organization promoting the hole-cutting practice, Hedgehog Street, was formed three years ago and has accummulated almost 40,000 “Hedgie-phile” members. Their research indicates that one-third of the hedgehog population was lost in a ten year period as the animals‘ territory is taken over by development. Their website provides Hedgehog survival tips to residents who notice Hedgie visitors on their property.
Another organization, The Hedgehog Preservation Society, is also devoted to helping the adorable, spiky critters. Their mission is to create awareness of the Hedgie population decline and to educate people about how they can help. They have a course for land managers and consultants that instructs them how to build hedgehog friendly houses. They are also reaching out to developers.
It’s no surprise that the Brits are mobilizing to assist the Hedgehogs. They were voted England’s favorite wild animal in a 2013 poll. Like many other wild animals, they are being forced out of their habitats each time a wooded area becomes a shopping center, a housing development, et cetera. Hedgies enjoy living in gardens as they can find their favorite meals there. Fortunately, England is full of lovely gardens.
Fun fact: The etymology of the name hedgehog came from their rooting through hedges to find insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and snakes (yum!). While they search for these delicacies they make pig-like grunts, hence the hog part of their name.
Ideally, the hedgehogs would be able to live in less populated areas. Elastic bands dropped by letter carriers can get stuck in their needles. Little cups sometimes get stuck on their heads. Infections can result from these foreign objects. The Hedgehog Superhighway optim izes their suburban existence by allowing the hedgies to journey freely and find food.