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10 simple steps to protect Hedgehogs

As spring sets in, here are ten simple ways to protect hedgehogs

Under threat from all sides, hedgehogs need our help to keep their gardens safe.


Threatened by intensive farming and road traffic, hedgehogs could disappear completely by 2025.

Two-thirds of hedgehogs have already been wiped out in France over the last twenty years, and one million individuals continue to disappear every year. The main culprits are cars that run them over and, above all, the pesticides they swallow.


So, to ease the suffering of this emblematic garden animal and to help them out, the association Le Hameau des hérissons has published the ten golden rules to follow. Here's a list of ten little things that are easy to remember and simple to put into practice.



Here they are:


1- Ban toxic products: slug pellets, pesticides, chemicals, weed killers, moss killers, rodenticides, etc. They poison the insects I feed on. They poison the insects I feed on.

All these products are also toxic and extremely dangerous for your children, your pets and biodiversity in general.


2- Use garden tools with care: trimmers, hedge trimmers, lawnmowers, brush cutters, chain saws, forks, rakes, shovels, etc. can cause very serious and often fatal injuries. Make sure I'm nowhere near the machine!


3- Take precautions before moving a pile of wood or objects stored under a tarpaulin: think of me, I may have made my nest there.


4- Watch out for fire! Before burning a pile of leaves, brushwood or wood, or lighting your incinerator, check carefully underneath. If you find a nest there, respect it, don't disturb it, and move your fire.


5- Secure the pool: the vertical, slippery edges prevent me from getting out and despite my best efforts I could drown...

So that I can get back in and avoid drowning, fix a rough board or fine wire netting around the edges.


6- Securing pits: an ornamental garden below a house or building, an old well, an open ruin, a staircase, etc., are veritable death traps!

To save my life, and that of my many friends: frogs, shrews and other small animals useful in the garden, put up a rough board so that you can climb back up if you fall.


7- Remove the protective netting from your vegetables or fruit trees: I can get caught in it and seriously injure myself trying to free myself. The same goes for tennis or badminton nets: don't leave them lying around. By the time you find me, I'll be dead from exhaustion!


8- Protect all openings where I can get in and get stuck: drainpipes, manholes, cellar window wells, basement windows.

Put a grille to prevent accidents.


9- Teach your dog to be tolerant: make sure he doesn't come and find a litter of puppies that would be doomed to certain death without their mother, or disrupt my night-time walks. Dogs have powerful jaws and can break my ribs and seriously injure me if they catch me in their jaws.


10- Objects left outside that are harmless to you: plastic bags, tins, yoghurt pots and empty jars are traps in which I can get stuck and suffocate to death! Curious by nature, I have an annoying habit of sticking my nose into everything.




Petits secrets de hérissons


Le hérisson aime vivre tout près des habitations et ne demanderait qu’à cohabiter en harmonie avec les hommes. Nageur le hérisson? Celui-ci aime barboter mais pour ressortir de son bassin, il a besoin d’une petite échelle ou d’un point d’accroche.


Quand il sent sur une odeur qu’il ne connaît pas, le hérisson se met à saliver excessivement et s’enduit les piquants. Ce comportement a été observé chez des animaux dès l’âge de deux semaines, mais son utilité est encore inconnue.


Les bébés ne pèsent que quelques grammes à la naissance et la mère les allaitera le temps qu’ils soient prêts à affronter la nature tout seuls. Une heure après la naissance, les piquants commencent déjà à apparaître. Durant les deux première semaine de la vie, le hérisson mue quatre à cinq fois, jusqu'à ce que ses épines deviennent suffisamment rigides.


Grâce à ses griffes, le hérisson peut facilement grimper plusieurs marches d’escalier ou s’agripper à un tapis. Ces petits insectivores peuvent parcourir jusqu'à 7 kilomètres par jour pour picorer des scarabées, larves, araignées et autres escargots.


Le hérisson aime se cacher dans des milieux richement structurés. Attention avant de brûler un vieux tas de feuilles mortes au fond du jardin: un hérisson pourrait s'y cacher. Malmené par les humains, ces petits animaux vivent en moyenne quatre ans alors qu'ils pourraient durer jusqu'à huit ans sans menaces extérieures.


Ses 7000 piquants le protègent des prédateurs. Lorsqu’il se sent menacé, il contracte un muscle circulaire et se referme sur lui-même comme une bourse. Lorsque l’hiver approche, le hérisson se cache dans un nid au sec et hiberne durant six mois. Pour économiser son énergie, sa température corporelle passe de 37 à 5° C. Au printemps, il aura perdu 30% de son poids.

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