Helping the Hedgehog

Whilst Colour in the Margins is focusing on 10 primary arable plant species, there are many more familiar species that we are aiming to help with our project including the brown hare, harvest mouse and the hedgehog.

The hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is generally common across Europe, with populations currently stable across most of it range, it is thought to be declining severely in Great Britain. It is now thought that were are fewer than a million hedgehogs here in Great Britain and in 2007 it was classified a Biodiversity Action Plan “priority” species, in response to negative trends in national surveys. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) conclude that 25% of the British hedgehog population has been lost in a decade.

Colour in the Margins is working to increase the spread and quality of arable habitat, of which the hedgehog is fond of, so any success with our arable plants is a success for the little prickly hedgehog. They have been historically associated with farmland for centuries.

Hedgehogs are insectivores, foraging in fields and on grassland for worms, and along field margins for beetles, snails and other invertebrates. So why is farmland important for them? Whilst they are considered a generalist species, inhabiting most areas in our countryside and villages – farmland is the dominant habitat in the UK, it is particularly important for hedgehogs. Arable land can support healthy hedgehog populations as there tends to be wide, species rich hedgerows as well as the buffer of margins which are used as “highways” for them to move around the landscape. Recently ploughed fields are also great at providing lots of earthworms and hedgehogs can also be found in fields taking the opportunity to feed on invertebrates once crops have been harvested. So by working with farmers and land owners to help manage their land to benefit arable plants, they will also in turn be benefiting the hedgehog and the habitat is depends on.

There is also a way you can help protect the hedgehog too…

…With bonfire night and Halloween fast approaching, the BHPS is urging people to build bonfires on the day they are to be lit to save hedgehogs and other wildlife from suffering. Bonfires are the perfect habitat for an unsuspecting hedgehog – they are warm, dry and offer a great place for safety and a nap! Hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of a bonfire; you can check by lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom – not a fork or spade as you could stab them! You can also use a torch and listen out for a hissing noise – they make this when they have been disturbed which is a good sign they are cosy and warm in that house you’ve made for them!


Zoe Morrall

Colour in the Margins Project Outreach Officer


Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.