The UK’s only spiny mammal won with 35.9 per cent of the 5,000 votes, more than double that of the Red Fox, who came in second place with 15.4 per cent. The Red Squirrel came third with 11.4 per cent, out of a shortlist of 10 charismatic UK mammals.
Henry Johnson, hedgehog officer, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) said: “We Brits seem to love hedgehogs for a whole range of reasons, including their cute appearance, their role as slug controllers and the way they have colonised our gardens with such aplomb. This is why it is so sad to see them decline, with one in three lost since the millennium.”
Hedgehogs are increasingly under threat – from a lack of diversity of habitats to being prone to road traffic accidents.
Henry said we can help to protect them: “The first step is ensuring hedgehogs can access our gardens – this means ‘hedgehog highways’ at the base of fences and walls. Then the gardens themselves can be enhanced through log piles, compost heaps, ponds and nectar-rich plants.”
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Fiona Mathews, chairman of The Mammal Society, said: “We are currently reviewing the conservation status of all British Mammals, including Hedghogs.
“Many people will find it surprising that we have very little information on where species as charismatic as hedgehogs are found. We suspect they are now doing better in suburban areas, than they are in farmland, but we really need more information.
“The public can help by submitting their records via our free Mammal Tracker App.”
A total of 101 mammal species can be found in and around the UK. Some of these species have suffered serious declines. The poll was opened during Biology Week 2016 to raise awareness of UK mammals and the need for an increased conservation effort.