A couple of months ago Ben (Wildlife Engagement Officer) and I visited the Lifeways Therapy Centre in Stratford-Upon-Avon to set up hedgehog survey tunnels in their fabulous community garden. The garden is an ongoing project that compliments the work of the centre by providing a calm space in which to grow vegetables, get all the therapeutic benefits of gardening, or simply relax.
James Pavitt, the Lifeways Centre Manager, was very much hoping that there might be some hedgehogs in the garden, as along with nurturing the local community he is passionate about wildlife; aiming to provide the best habitat possible for the birds, bees and small mammals that can thrive in urban gardens.
To look for hedgehogs, we used small mammal tunnels. Essentially this is a triangular plastic tube that is pegged down, in the middle of which is some kind of food that acts as bait. Hedgehogs, believe it or not, are rather big fans of hotdogs, so that was our tempting treat in the middle of the tunnel. You could easily use any other hedgehog favourite – cat or dog food, perhaps a little dried fruit. On either side of the bait is a strip of a non-harmful ink solution and a sheet of paper – so that when the hedgehog (or other small mammal) comes to feed they leave behind a trail of inky pawprints that we can then use to identify them.
At Lifeways we didn’t have any hedgehog visitors; however we are hoping to attract hedgehogs to this garden in the future, and there were some lovely sightings of the foxes who live in the garden which you can view on our Youtube channel. If you’d like to see the survey tunnels in use though, then take a look at this:
You can get involved in the National Hedgehog Survey yourself by visiting ptes.org. The survey sites are already designated and you will be assigned one that is near your home. Your contribution could be invaluable to a project that aims to discover where hedgehog populations are present across England and Wales. However, if you want to experiment with mammal survey tunnels in your own garden then these downloads from Wildlife Watch and The Mammal Society should give you all the info you need. Happy surveying!