Helping our Hedgehogs

All is not well for our Hedgehogs, but we can all do something to help

Hedgehogs are in trouble. The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs Report, released last week, shows that across the U.K hedgehog population have decreased by almost half since 2002. The threats faced by Hedgehogs range from intensive farming and road collisions, to slug pellets and predation.

The picture is more complex then it first appears. In rural areas populations seem to have declined markedly whereas in urban areas some populations have stabilised and may be increasing. Part of this likely to relate to habitat; with Hedgehogs increasingly being associated with the mix of gardens and green spaces found in urban areas and less so in intensively managed countryside.

Hedgehogs are one of the top ten mammals record in Wiltshire. Mammals of Wiltshire (published in 2017) found that they have been recorded in 16% of kilometre squares in Wiltshire and that this has stayed near constant since the 1990’s. Hotspots are around urban areas such as: Chippenham, Trowbridge, Swindon and Salisbury. This is likely to be a reflection of both habitat preference and recording effort across the county.

So what can be done to help our spikey friends? Thankfully there are many small actions that can help hedgehogs. Installing a hedgehog house or leaving a corner of your garden to go wild can help massively. The Hedgehog Street Website contain loads of information about these ideas and more. Another simple but important action is to send in any Hedgehog sightings to us, finding out where there are still Hedgehogs present in Wiltshire will help to protect them.

Over the next few weeks hedgehogs will be emerging from hibernation. So keep an eye out for them and let us know if you spot any.

Has Anyone Seen a Spider?

Why is it important to record everything you see?

As 2017 starts to draw to a close it gives us as at WSBRC a chance to look back at the records we have received over the past year. We get records from many different sources and covering the whole range of species found in the county, from birds and beetles to snakes and spiders.

One thing that is very clear form looking at the records we hold is how some species are seriously underrepresented. Take for example the humble House Mouse (Mus musculus) currently in our database there are only 135 records for this species and in 2017 we received only a single sighting. This is just on example another is the Common Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum). Which as the name suggests is common and found in gardens however we only have 117 records and one new record for 2017.

Under recording also extends to families and groups of species. Take the Orb Web Spiders (the Araneidae) again this group is widespread and found in places such as gardens and woodlands but we have less than 800 records for the whole group. We know that all these common and widespread species are out there, the records are just not being sent into us.

The message here is to record everything you see, both the rare and unusual and the common and every day. There are a wealth of resources and many local experts and recording groups to help with get to grips with species you are not familiar with and everyone has to start somewhere.

If you are interested recording something specific, improving your ID skills with a new group of species or would like to know a bit more about the gaps we have and where your records could help make a big difference, please get in touch.

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