With their needle-ridden backs, hedgehogs are easily identifiable. Many consider them to be cute, while some even keep the creatures as pets. Unfortunately, hedgehogs situated in Britain seem to have experienced a steep population decline from 2000 until now – almost by half.
Image Credit: Pixabay
A new report made possible from data acquired by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) highlights the significance of the hedgehog decline and cites a few potential driving factors.
So what’s causing all the hedgehogs to disappear? Continued agricultural growth and over-use of pesticides could be to blame. The former destroys the animals’ natural shelter from predators, while the latter kills off vast amounts of their natural prey. Together, these factors create a hostile environment for hedgehogs.
“What is most concerning is that hedgehogs are generalists – they are not particularly fussy in terms of habitat and food,” noted David Wembridge at PTES.
“If that sort of species is declining it is indicative that there are probably problems elsewhere in the environment too in terms of biodiversity and the invertebrate prey species it is eating.”
To make matters worse, badgers like to snack on hedgehogs, and their populations are exploding exponentially across the region.
Hedgehogs are particularly resourceful critters; they aren’t about their landscape and finding ways to survive in it. When their typical prey or shelter isn’t available, hedgehogs utilize alternatives, albeit not as effective as their natural counterparts.
It can be alarming to learn that such an adaptable creature is on the decline. It’s enough to make you wonder how these factors will impact far more vulnerable animals as time goes on. Surely, this is a problem that animal conservationists will need to address sooner rather than later.