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Hedgehogs nearly on endangered list

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 14, 2009 in Environment
Hedgehogs have been around on the planet for some 20-million years. They also were long-cited as a suburban success story in the UK - with hedgehog populations making themselves right at home. However recently, there's been a 40% decline.
Urban gardens are being concreted over for parking bays, there are far fewer hedges and holes for them to hide in, the gardens are also becoming smaller and the number of houses have increased, animal welfare experts say. They still survive well in London's many parks but there are fears that they will become isolated from one another in these garden pockets and thus fail to breed.
The hedgehog is the UK's only spiny mammal - adults may have up to 5,000 spines. They got their name from their pig-like habit of rooting through the undergrowth for food. They are quite noisy and can be heard snuffling and grunting during their activities.
Hedgehogs’ ancestors roamed the earth before mammoths and sabre toothed tigers, and they have changed little over the last 15 million years according to the fossil record. They have few natural enemies, although they do provide an occasional welcome meal for determined badgers and foxes.
Hedgehogs have been included in the United Kingdom 's Biodiversity Action Plan because of their growing scarcity.
Winter starvation forms the single greatest threat to a hedgehog’s survival, with three quarters of the population dying before they are one year old.
The loss of permanent pasture to arable farming in the countryside has reduced the number of grassland invertebrates on which hedgehogs feed. Moreover a large variety of garden and agricultural pesticides enter their food chain, inflicting untold damage, as their food source is made mainly of "pest" species.
More about Hedgehogs, Decline, London gardens, Cutest animals earth
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