Why hedgehogs only survive in cities
In Great Britain, the number of hedgehogs has shrunk by 75 percent in just over 20 years. In Germany, too, the animals practically only survive in cities. One garden owner’s favorite tool in particular has a devastating effect.
Als Britain not worried enough, now the nation of gardeners and animal lovers is troubled by this news. According to the latest figures, the number of hedgehogs on the islands has been declining since 2000 75 percent shrunk, per year it will be 8.3 percent less. In 2018, a total of around 880,000 were still alive Hedgehog in Great Britain. There are the strongest declines a recently published report according to the east of England. In the cities, the decline that has been discussed and fought for years could be stopped, but not in the countryside.
The legendary stock in the royal Regent’s Park in the City of London is also a source of concern. 30 to 40 isolated hedgehogs live there, actually not enough for a population that is sure of survival. The animals are meticulously and laboriously cared for twice a year – by up to 200 volunteers “Hedgehog Heroes” with thermal imaging cameras – counted. The Hedgehog Empire should not waver and not fall.
In Germany the situation is not much better, the downward trend is the same. “We’re actually only ten years behind the English,” he says Anne Berger from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin. Above all, there is hardly any comparative data in this country, and one of the few long-term studies is an evaluation from Bavaria. On the B12 between Munich and the Inn Valley since the 1970s all hit hedgehogs counted. The numbers fell sharply over the decades, which suggested the existence of hedgehogs. The study was ended in 2015 because there were hardly any dead hedgehogs left, and it can be ruled out that the animals had recently learned to cross the streets without accidents.
The one native to Europe brown breasted hedgehog is a difficult animal to count: nocturnal, one specimen difficult to distinguish from the other, so “Der Hare and the hedgehog” are considered a biologically versed fairy tale. The reasons for the extinction in the countryside are quickly listed. Pesticides decimate the insects, beetles, grubs, larvae are part of the diet alongside earthworms.
Hedgehog researcher Anne Berger says: “They have nothing left to eat and nothing left to live in either. They can’t build nests because there are hardly any hedges and green verges left in the countryside.” In this case, climate change is not a real accelerator; however, the drought summers with hard soil and little water have a problematic effect.
So the hedgehogs are currently surviving in the cities with their parks and green spaces, on the outskirts with many gardens. Berger last had the in Berlin Relatives of the capital hedgehog examined. There are therefore three clans that characterize Germany’s largest city, but without causing a stir and TV series. Actually, the hedgehog clans should be separated from each other, because roads, rivers, railway lines provide insurmountable barriers. Nevertheless, when the scientists analyzed the genomes of 143 hedgehogs, they found that there is a real “Berliner Mix”.
How do the animals manage to mix so well in the city with its dangers? Anne Berger names two possibilities. Either the supply of green spaces is so complete and good that hedgehogs can migrate unhindered – or humans have a hand in it. The second variant is more likely, it is supported by reports from the hedgehog sanctuaries. Found and nursed young animals are often released to new locations – and spread.
In years with warm, humid summers and cold, dry winters, good food and many nests, the females have up to ten offspring, so the hedgehogs could well have more. The fact that it is different is also due to unfortunate factors in the cities. These include the well-known obstacles, including the increasing number of dogs and plastic waste. Anne Berger criticizes the senseless zeal for order in parks where hedgehogs are concerned, where all leaves and thus nesting material are cleared away in autumn.
In addition, there are two popular items for prosperous green maintenance. Leaf blowers sometimes destroy hedgehog nests or simply suck away young animals that weigh only a hundred grams in the fall. And robotic lawnmowers have a devastating effect, even if the products now promise hedgehog-free mowing. An increase in the worst cut injuries is observed in all hedgehog stations. Berger: “The number of unreported cases is huge, the hedgehog doesn’t howl, he drags himself into the bushes with two legs that have been cut off.”
Hedgehog friends therefore want to initiate a night-time driving ban for robotic lawnmowers via a petition. However, that is not easy either – because precise data and figures are missing, see above.
After all, it is quite easy for each individual to do something for hedgehogs. This includes insect and beetle friendly plants in the garden, no gravel gardens, prefer fences instead of walls. And some leaves in the corner can work wonders.