Thursday, 2nd February 2023 is National Hedgehog Day and Hedgehog Highway, from Songs For EVERY Autumn Assembly, is the perfect song for the occasion! It’s catchy, great fun to sing and brings the topic to life in classrooms and assemblies.
To mark National Hedgehog Day we have put together five ideas to support these fantastic creatures at home and in schools. These suggestions are built on the advice from Hedgehog Street, a brilliant website where you can find further advice and resources. The ideas include great outdoor activities to help children engage with this topic and open opportunities for exploring wider themes such as wildlife, neighbourhood connections, local ecosystems, our impact on the environment, and the power of collective change-making.
No single garden is enough; hedgehogs need neighbourhoods of linked-up gardens to survive, connected by accessible and safe routes called ‘Hedgehog Highways’. Hedgehogs travel around one mile every night looking for food and a mate – a very long way for such little legs! Building a Hedgehog Highway involves clearing a pathway and ensuring there is a garden entrance/exit point for our soft-yet-prickly little friends.
Garden and school ponds are a real hazard for thirsty hedgehogs, who will be on the hunt for a drink but are unable to climb out of deep water. Simple planks of wood or stacked up stones will provide a route out of trouble and an easy way for hedgehogs to access fresh water. Hedgehogs also struggle to climb up steps, so try to ‘think like a hedgehog’ and scout around for any other places where a ramp could help them out.
Hedgehogs build nests out of deciduous leaves and love to snuggle down under a pile of logs. Piling up leaves and other garden cuttings in a dedicated corner of the garden gives hedgehogs a safe space to hide out and sleep undisturbed. Growing wildflowers in this area will also encourage more insects, which are an essential food source for hedgehogs. Your wild corner will help hedgehogs as well as many more species of wildlife!
In cold or dry periods, a hedgehog’s natural food sources become much scarcer so setting out food and drink helps to ensure that they are still fed and watered. Bowls of cat food and water are great options, and you can find some helpful hints on the best ways to make sure it’s only hedgehogs making the most of these meals here: www.hedgehogstreet.org/help-hedgehogs/feed-hedgehogs/
Lots of hedgehog homes are available to buy online, or you could build a simple one yourself. Hedgehog Street provides lots of inspiration and instructions here: www.hedgehogstreet.org/help-hedgehogs/hedgehog-homes/. Making a little sign to put up outside the hedgehog home adds a fun touch and helps everyone remember to leave it undisturbed and accessible. A stacked-up pile of logs creates a cosy home, and adding a tunnel at the entrance tailor-makes it for hedgehogs, whilst keeping out pets or other animals.
Helping hedgehogs is a rewarding experience: it can bring the neighbourhood together, provide easy opportunities for children to become agents of change, benefit local wildlife and bring new significance to our gardens and green spaces. It is also a great opportunity to get involved with an aspect of environmental activism that carries an encouraging message – that although we have lost a third of all our hedgehogs since the millennium, the urban hedgehog populations are now stabilizing and showing signs of recovery (The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022).
So, as National Hedgehog Day approaches, use Hedgehog Highway and these five ideas at home or in school to raise awareness and get stuck in, helping these wonderful creatures!
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