Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hedgehogs, are they the new tigers? by Julie Sykes

The first book I ever wrote was a picture book about kittens. I sent it to a publisher who liked it very much; only they couldn't publish it because they already had enough books about cats on their list. The editor asked if I could write about something else. So I did. I wrote a book called Hedgehog's Apple. It was the story of a hedgehog, trying to find an apple for his tea. 

The editor liked that story too; only there was a problem. Picture books are expensive to publish and rely on co-editions, foreign editions of the book. This particular company worked closely with a publisher in America who wasn't interested in books on hedgehogs, as they weren't a native species. 

I immediately sacked hedgehog and threw away his apple. Then I hired a squirrel. The book (about Rufus going out to find some acorns for tea) became An Acorn for Tea. It published in America as Sara Squirrel and the Lost Acorns. 

I like hedgehogs. I was sad about getting rid of Rufus but not tragically so. Recently however, I was shocked to learn that hedgehog numbers are in sharp decline. The BBC's Michaela Strachan, co-presenter of Springwatch, wrote in this week's Radio Times, that 'Hedgehogs are declining at the same rate as tigers,' and 'they are in critical danger, particularly in London.' She goes on to say that if we don't do anything about it then hedgehogs will be gone in ten years. 

Hedgehogs need a huge amount of space to forage in - an area the size of TWO football pitches. Urban hedgehogs are often unable to travel such large distances partly because of garden fences blocking their way. 

And here's where we can help. If anyone with a garden could make a small hole under their fence it will allow hedgehogs the freedom to roam and find food. 

It's such a small thing to do so please help if you can. Better still, ask your neighbour to do the same. Imagine a Britain without the hedgehog. That would be tragic!


Sue Purkiss said...

Great link! I've often wondered why we never get hedgehogs, but then realised, after watching 'Springwatch' or some such, that it's because we live on a hill. To get into the garden, they'd have to climb up a bank and get through stone walls. Unless they came up the garden path... but they never have done.

Julie Sykes said...

Thanks Sue.
We don't get hedgehogs either. We have walls but there is a hedgehog sized gap under the gate.
We sometimes get herons. They sit on the garage roof - a sight to be seen. The fish don't like them much. I wonder why!

LynnHC said...

How funny! Have just compared myself to a hedgehog for tomorrow's blog entry :) Wish I saw more hedgehogs...

Julie Sykes said...

Spooky! Can't wait to read it!

Dawn Finch said...

I love hedgepigs and used to see them all the time as a child, but they are a far less common sight now. Funnily enough I saw one last week and it was the first time in years that I'd seen one. It was very early in the morning and I was on my way to the airport and he was running along the pavement. I'd forgotten how surprisingly long their legs are! They look hilarious when they run.