Berwickshire’s prickly friends are an unknown quantity in terms of numbers, but residents are being asked to change that by reporting sightings of hedgehogs.
The Wildlife Information Centre is launching a survey of hedgehogs across the Lothians and Scottish Borders, to build a database of the species and their habitats in the region.
Everyone is invited to submit any sightings of hedgehogs to contribute to the survey, which aims to collect data so that the status of hedgehogs can be monitored in future.
Imogen German, records ecologist for The Wildlife Information Centre, says: “The Wildlife Information Centre holds a comprehensive database of species and habitats found in the Lothians and Scottish Borders, however, we have very few records of hedgehogs found in this area.”
The UK hedgehog population has shown a significant decline in recent years, and as a result hedgehogs were listed as a Priority Species in the 2007 UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Intensive farming is believed to be a factor in leading to their decline - as fields are enlarged and hedgerows removed hedgehogs lose their nesting sites; while pesticide use on farmland and in gardens kills the invertebrates that hedgehogs eat and may even poison the hedgehogs directly.
The status of hedgehogs in the Lothians and Scottish Borders is unknown, with little data currently available.
But the Wildlife Information Centre - the biological records centre for the Lothians and the Scottish Borders which provides an objective, independent wildlife information service for people and organisations from all sectors - is trying to turn this around.
“By launching a survey of hedgehogs and inviting everyone to send in details of all their hedgehog sightings, we hope to develop a clear picture of the status of the hedgehog in this region,” Ms German continued.
“With this, we will be able to develop a baseline to monitor what is happening to hedgehogs in the future.”
To participate in the survey, residents are being asked to send in the details of any hedgehog they see in the Lothians and Scottish Borders to The Wildlife Information Centre.
You can do this by going onto the hedgehog sightings page of The Wildlife Information Centre’s website at www.wildlifeinformation.co.uk/hedgehogs.php and giving details of the date when you saw the hedgehog, where it was, how many you saw, and if it was either dead or alive.