My photos here are of a New Zealand hedgehog, though it is, in fact, the European species, Erinaceus europaeus, which British colonists introduced in the 1870s, partly to remind them of ‘home’ and partly to control garden pests like slugs and snails. As often happens when humans interfere with Nature, their introduction was not a wise move, as the hedgehog preys on some New Zealand native creatures and competes with them for food. It is considered a pest by many.
In Britain, their home, hedgehogs can be found almost everywhere, except in bogs and up mountains, and they are mostly certainly not pests. I’m sad to say I’ve never seen a hedgehog in Britain, neither in the six months I spent in Cheshire, nor since moving to Wales nine months ago. This may be an unfortunate side-effect of living in a first-floor flat with no garden access but it may also be because hedgehog numbers have declined rapidly in recent years, from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s to around 1.5 million in the 1990s.
Hedgehogs need our help. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society runs Hedgehog Awareness Week each year, to ‘highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them’. Check out their website for more information, and please help. After all, where would Britain be without its Mrs Tiggy-Winkles?