In rural areas, hedgehogs are associated with woodland edges, hedgerows and rough pasture, but they are equally happy in towns where they make use of gardens and other green spaces. Recent research, which mapped hedgehogs by their footprints, revealed that hedgehogs were present in only 22% of the 261 rural areas that were surveyed. This supports previous work, based on visual sightings and road-kills, indicating that the number of hedgehogs in Britain has declined by more than half since 2000. The decline in hedgehog numbers in rural areas has been attributed to the intensification of agriculture and the increase in badger populations. By contrast areas in and around towns and villages have been shown to provide suitable habitats for hedgehogs, and hedgehog numbers appear to be stables, and possibly increasing, in these areas.
As towns and villages become increasingly important for hedgehogs, wildlife friendly gardening measured are being encouraged to help these animals. As hedgehogs can travel 1-2km in a single night, allowing hedgehogs to move freely between gardens is the key to supporting this animal. The Hedgehog Street initiative encourages gardeners to create gaps under fences and walls of around 13cm x13cm, to allow hedgehogs through. Other recommendations include creating piles of logs and other deadwood to provide shelter and hibernation sites for hedgehogs, as well as creating a compost heap that will attract the invertebrates that hedgehogs eat. With a little help from gardeners, the future of hedgehogs in looking more positive.
For more information on how to help hedgehogs see https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/help-hedgehogs/helpful-garden-features/