Press Release 11 July 2014: Release time immediate
The Leatherhead-based Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF), which is campaigning to protect Britain’s hedgehogs, has produced an animated film entitled “Saving Harry” which uses the story of Harry and Harriet the hedgehogs to highlight the plight of their species.
Britain’s hedgehog population has plummeted from 30 million in the 1950s to under a million today – a rate of decline which means that the hedgehog could soon vanish completely from many parts of the UK. Simon Cowell MBE, founder and chief executive of WAF, believes that the hedgehog is facing urban extinction within the next 10 years.
“The hedgehog’s natural habitat is disappearing fast and these poor creatures face many more dangers than they have ever faced before due to Man’s encroachment. Unless we act now to ‘save Harry’ we risk losing our most iconic wildlife species from Britain completely. It is high time we learned how precious and how vulnerable our natural environment has become.”
To promote WAF’s campaign to provide better protection for the British hedgehog, the charity has made an animated film entitled “Saving Harry”. This can be viewed online at www.wildlifeaid.org.uk/savingharry. Simon Cowell says: “Animation is a great way to tell the story of the humble hedgehog and to highlight the dangers that these wonderful little animals face on a daily basis. Please have a look at the film and tell all your friends and family about it.”
The film is the creation of award-winning animator Kris Hofmann, using the extraordinary talents of illustrator Sandra Dieckmann and puppet-maker Joseph James.
•The hedgehog got its name from its foraging activities; hedgehogs snuffle through hedgerows and undergrowth, emitting a small grunting noise, like a pig, as they search for food.
•A hedgehog’s diet consists mainly of insects, beetles, earthworms, snails, slugs and other such small creatures, bird eggs, carrion, grass roots and berries. If you’d like to help to feed the hedgehogs in your garden, you can put out a shallow bowl of cat or dog (not fish flavour) and a shallow bowl of water
(NEVER MILK, which can prove fatal for hedgehogs!).
•Hedgehogs are nocturnal – sleeping during the day and coming out at night.
•Hedgehogs have about 5000 spines – each spine lasts around a year, it then falls out and a replacement grows.
•When under threat, the hedgehog curls up to protect its soft stomach, on which it has no spines.
•Hedgehogs rely, primarily, on their senses of hearing and smell; their eyesight is comparably weak and mainly adapted for night-time vision.
•Hedgehogs have a long snout, which extends beyond the front of their mouth, to help them forage for food.
•The Hedgehog has earned the reputation of being the ‘gardener’s friend’, as it’d natural diet contains so many ‘pests’.
•Hedgehogs are quite solitary animals, pairing up only to mate. The male takes no part in rearing the family.
•A hedgehog will have a litter of anywhere between 1 to 10 young (most commonly 4 – 5), known as ‘hoglets’. The young are born between May and September and will remain with their mother for only 6 – 8 weeks before venturing out on their own.
•While her babies are young, the mother hedgehog must guard them against predators that include other male hedgehogs, which will sometimes prey on the young of their own species. Mother hedgehogs have been known to eat their own young if their nest is disturbed, though they will sometimes simply just move to a new nest.
•Hoglets are born blind, with soft spines, after around 4 weeks. The young are suckled by their mother until they are able to feed for themselves. At a month old, the mother hedgehog will take her young out on their first forage and, around 10 days later, the family will separate.
•European hedgehogs hibernate throughout the winter; they build up their fat reserves during the autumn and, around October-time, build grassy, leafy nests in which to hibernate. It is crucial that hedgehogs reach a weight of around 600g or they will not survive hibernation.
•During hibernation, the animal’s body functions slow down, almost to a standstill. Heartbeat decreases from 190bpm to 20bpm and body temperature drops from 35°C to 1 0°C. This helps them conserve energy.
•Hedgehogs have been known to live for up to 14 years, but, in the wild, most will die after two years.
What you can do to help Save Harry
•Crush and recycle your tin cans so Harry doesn’t get stuck inside.
•Check and double-check your bonfires before lighting them; unlit bonfires can seem like ideal nests to sleepy or hibernating hogs.
•Cut through the plastic rings that connect 4-packs of canned drinks – Harry can get tangled in and hurt by them.
•Roll up your football net after practice so that Harry doesn’t get knotted up in it.
•Take extra care when strimming your garden so you don’t accidently cut Harry.
•Beware of decking! Any gaps in your decking could break Harry’s leg if he accidently stumbles and gets stuck in them.
•Dig small holes under your fence so that Harry can move about freely and doesn’t become trapped.
•If you have a steep-sided pond, place a few rocks at the edge so that Harry can climb out.
•If you use slug pellets or other pesticides, PLEASE make sure they are organic and wildlife friendly, otherwise you will poison Harry.
•Never use chain-link fencing, as Harry can get stuck in it.
•Please place covers back on swimming pools when they are not in use to save Harry from drowning.
•Make sure your gardens are as wildlife-friendly as possible; you could even put some dog or cat food out in a shallow bowl for Harry to eat.
•Support the Wildlife Aid Foundation, which is campaigning to save Harry!
Press contact: Simon Cowell, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 07836 635269; Andy Smith, email email@example.com, tel 07737 271676.