Be a hero for hedgehogs


Veteran reporter, friend to Queen and Freddie, David Wigg, recently spoke to Brian May about the plight of British hedgehogs, see here:

Brian May and Percy the hedgehog

8 April 2017 by David Wigg

To his fans Brian May is not only one of the musical legends in Queen, but also an astronomer and passionate opponent of badger culling.

More recently, though he’s added hedgehog hero to his CV, after discovering that in the past 40 years numbers of these adorable creatures in Britain have declined from around 35 million. This is chiefly due to loss of habitat as people pave over their gardens, as well as an increase in road accidents – an estimated 200,000 hedgehogs die on our roads each year – as the volume of cars has risen.

‘Hedgehogs are in deep trouble,’ he says, ‘mainly due to ignorance of their needs. But most people in Britain love these animals and are prepared to share their environment with them, so focusing attention on them is relatively easy.’

In a video he’s made stressing their plight, Brian is filmed at his Surrey estate holding a prickly little chap named Percy, who was attacked outside a local leisure centre when he was put in a bag, swung around and kicked like a football. Police were called and Percy was taken to Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue, which has been operating with Brian’s anti-cruelty charity the Save Me Trust from premises on his Windlesham estate for seven years

. In the video Brian asks, ‘Can you see him? He’s in “I don’t want to be disturbed” mode at the moment, but you can see he’s healthy and happy now. The thugs were prosecuted, but you can’t undo the damage. All we can do is try to make people understand that these are real creatures with feelings. They have as much right to live in this land as we have.’

Harper Asprey is run by a team of volunteers led by Anne Brummer, who started rescuing hedgehogs more than 30 years ago and says there’s so much we can do to help. ‘They love snails and slugs, so they’re good at getting rid of pests. Why use poisons when hedgehogs can do it? If you want to put foot out for them, they like meat and you can give them cat biscuits, but milk upsets their stomachs. If you have a pond, make sure the sides aren’t too steep so they can get a drink and still climb out if they fall in.’

`Hedgehogs love to sleep in long grass during the day, so check before you mow,’ says Anne. ‘Garden netting can be a problem too as they can get tangled up in it. Compost heaps are ideal place for them to rear their young, so take care when turning the heap, and check bonfires before lighting, as hedgehogs love to sleep inside.’

‘After they’re born it’s several weeks before they can fend for themselves, so they’re vulnerable to predators,’ adds Anne. ‘So create an area in your garden that’s a bit wild where they can build their nests safely.’

Brian is adamant we need to act now for future generations. ‘Let’s take care of hedgehogs while we still have them,’ he says. ‘When I’m gone I’ll be remembered for Queen, but I’d rather be remembered for attempting to change the way we treat our fellow creatures.’

David Wigg

Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue and Save Me Trust