After years of decline, hedgehogs are finally making a comeback in the UK

Garden sightings of the adorable creatures have gone up by a whole two percent

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton
Contributing writer
Hedgehog in a garden, UK
Photograph: Shutterstock

Once upon a time, there were over 30 million hedgehogs sniffing and scuffling through the British countryside. These days, catching a glimpse of our spikey friends has become a rarity. Over the decades, hedgehog numbers have dwindled to an estimated one million due to stuff like habitat loss, road traffic and pesticides ingested by the slugs and snails that they eat. 

But in a newly released BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine survey of 2,000 people, there have been small signs that hedgehogs could be making a comeback. Thirty-three percent of respondents said that they’d spotted hedgehogs in their garden in 2023, compared to 31 percent in 2022. Granted, it’s a only a little jump – but it’s a jump nonetheless.  

The biggest increase in sightings was in urban areas, which saw a 2.7 percent rise. That’s likely been helped by campaigns encouraging city-dwellers to leave patches of their gardens ‘messy’ for hedgehogs to dig in and to create ‘hedgehog highways’ of holes in fences so that they can travel around. 

There was only a one percent increase in rural areas but compared to the previous year, 21 percent of participants said that they either caught a glimpse of the prickly creatures for the first time or saw them more often than before. 

Best not get too excited just yet, though. Fay Vass, CEO of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, warned that the findings should be taken with a pinch of salt. She said: ‘Valuable as the Gardeners’ World survey is, we need to remember that these figures are only a snapshot. Populations change year to year, and these findings might not necessarily represent the underlying trend.’

She compared the Gardeners’ World report to data from the BHPS’s 2022 research into the state of Britain’s hedgehogs, which gave ‘cause for cautious optimism’ but showed that urban populations are still much lower than they should be.

Wild things with Time Out

While we hope for even more hedgehog sightings in 2024, there’s lots of other uplifting wildlife stories that Time Out has reported on recently. There were these adorable baby red squirrels that were born in Yorkshirethis young beaver, which was the first to be born in London for 400 years, and these very cute and fluffy birds in Northern Ireland. If you want to see some rare and adorable creatures for yourself right here in the UK, then these amazing landscapes, handpicked by us, are your best bet. 

Did you see that these are Britain’s most delicious takeaways, according to Deliveroo?

Plus: Ryanair is launching new routes from this UK airport

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