The hedgehog was voted the United Kingdom’s favorite mammal in a vote cast by the Royal Society of Biology in 2016 and yet, over the past two decades, the number of hedgehogs in the wild has dropped 66% and many have not seen a hedgehog in their gardens for several years. However, hope is not lost for the hedgehog just yet. Many locals are fighting to make their towns and cities hedgehog safe to help protect the UK’s favorite mammal. 

Barnes Hedgehogs is a small organization that has, since 2016, endeavored to make Barnes a safe haven for hedgehogs. It is run by Michel Birkenwald who was inspired to start this project after finding a hedgehog living in his own garden. In the wild, hedgehogs can travel up to one mile each night, but with fences and walls surrounding our gardens, traveling long distances can be challenging. Barnes Hedgehogs’ solution to this was to create a Hedgehog highway across Barnes. This involves drilling a CD-sized hole in fences and walls to allow hedgehogs to pass in and out of gardens easily. They often spend their weekends installing hedgehog highway’s all across Barnes and ensuring they remain clear of debris by placing one of their famous blue plaques above it.

Whilst installing a Hedgehog highway in our own gardens is one way to can help protect these animals, there is plenty more we can and should be doing. Some of the major misconceptions Barnes Hedgehogs addresses on their Instagram - @barneshedghogs - are what foods and drinks we should be leaving out for them in our gardens. Many foods, such as mealworms and bread, that most would consider suitable options to leave out for a hedgehog can actually cause metabolic issues and milk could be fatal as these mammals are severely lactose intolerant. Barnes Hedgehogs simply suggests leaving clean, fresh water, and a small shelter to keep Barnes’ hedgehogs safe.

It is not only Barnes Hedgehogs that are looking out for these mammals in Barnes. The WWT London Wetland centre has recently opened its own hedgehog nursery where they can raise abandoned hoglets. It now houses its first four hoglets.