Hedgehogs could be extinct in the UK by 2020, experts have warned.
Where there was once an estimated 30 million of our spiky friends roaming around Britain in the 1950s, numbers are said to have dwindled to less than a million.
There are a variety of reasons for the dramatic decline – but the good news is people can help.
Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital has launched a desperate appeal for cat and dog food to help many survive this winter.
Emma Pink, from the Sidlesham centre, said: “We haven’t actually counted, but there’s well over 100 here at the moment.
“Yesterday we had 11 brought in to us, they are coming in thick and fast and we’re low on volunteers.
“We are going through 60 tins of cat and dog food a day, we’ve got enough for the next two weeks at the most.
“We had our latest open day recently but because it was so blustery, the numbers were slightly down so we didn’t get as much as we normally do.
“We’re also desperately short of newspaper as well.
“Some rats got into our store of papers and peed all over them, they’re contaminated now so we can’t use them.
“We have so many hedgehogs that we’re getting through three or four bin liners of newspaper a day.”
The once-common sight of hedgehogs in our gardens now sadly appears to be a bygone pleasure.
And Emma says people who do find them should bring them into the animal hospital, rather then try to nurse them themselves. “It’s so great that people want to help save a hedgehog but they should always bring them in to us.
“A lot of them are so small they won’t survive the winter without proper help and food.
“Many of them have parasites and we carry out health MOTs on them.”
Hog Watch says the alarming decline is down to a number of factors, including fewer hedges, woodland and wild areas, with green areas replaced by houses and roads.
The loss of the hedgehog’s habitat is also down to gardens and parks becoming ‘too tidy’ and closed off by fences and walls, it says.
“They are massively in decline, they think they could be extinct in the UK by 2020,” Emma said.
“They’re not in a good way at all, but charities like us are trying to do what we can to highlight their plight.”
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