Wild Days’ home-town has just been declared Britain’s first ‘Hedgehog Town’! We went along to an event celebrating this to find out more and met some wonderfully enthusiastic people from the Dorset Mammal Group. We didn’t see any hedgehogs though – thankfully the group knew they were nocturnal, and that it’s best not to disturb them.
As we asked about, it turned out that for many people it had been a long time since they had seen a hedgehog at all – even an unfortunate on the road – so armed with one of our footprint tunnels, we set out last night to see if we could find any sign of the elusive creatures in the garden of Wild Days Towers.
A footprint tunnel is a wonderfully simple thing: you could make one yourself, although we get ours from our friends at The Mammal Society. It’s a triangular plastic tunnel about a metre long and 25cm high. A removable floor is prepared with a sheet of A4 paper clipped at each end, sections beyond smeared with a non-toxic ‘ink’ preparation (carbon powder and vegetable oil), and in the centre some tasty bait. This time we used wet dog food, but hot-dog sausages also come highly recommended and there are always a few left over…
The tunnel was placed in the sort of place you’d find a hedgehog – the clue’s in the title really, but if you don’t have a hedge, any linear feature such as a fence-line or along a wall is a good start – and left overnight.
We never get tired of the excitement of checking traps and tunnels in the morning, and today was no exception. We were not sure what we’d find, and suspected possibly only evidence of cats, so we were cock-a-hoop to find these glorious hedgehog footprints. Amazing – never seen before in the area, and yet in one night we found the tracks. Maybe you’ve got some in your garden…?