Five two-months old hedgehogs eat cat food in a garden where they were found last week in Gelsenkirchen
Five two-months old hedgehogs eat cat food in a garden where they were found last week in Gelsenkirchen

According to a new study, 10 indigenous species have suffered the most dramatic decline over the past century in Britain, including hedgehogs, with only one million of them left in the whole country.

The report says the latest figures represent a decline of 25 per cent over the past decade, which could in some parts of the country, reach a fall as high as 50 per cent, casting doubts over the long term survival of the hedgehog in Britain.

Other species affected by sharp decline are the black-tailed godwit, the cuckoo, the red squirrel and the natterjack toad .

The list was compiled by researchers on behalf Eden, a digital natural history channel and the study was led by Toni Bunnell, a retired zoology lecturer.

Dr Bunnell, who runs a hedgehog sanctuary near York, cited various reasons for the decline in population.

"Pesticides have eliminated much of their food such as caterpillars and beetles. Then there has been a reduction of habitat in the countryside which they are having to share with predatory badgers," she told The Daily Telegraph.

"They have moved into residential areas where the problems they face are rat poison, strimming and mowing. They are also being rapped in netting where they suffer horrific injuries and have to be put to sleep.

"They used to be able to go from one garden to another for food, but because of fencing they can't do that any more."

It has also been reported that the hedgehogs were being run over by vehicles at a rate of 50,000 a year.

However all is not lost as Dr Bunnell says hedgehogs can still be preserved by using wildlife-friendly slug pellets as opposed to pesticides, while providing food and water. In addition removing trailing netting also greatly helps.

The researcher also emphasised that many other species are in the risk of becoming seriously endangered.

"I cannot remember the last time I heard a cuckoo, for instance, which used to be one of the iconic sounds of the British countryside.

"We have managed to link population numbers with rates of decline to estimate species most under threat for the first time.

"There are a number of issues of course, including some in other countries when it comes to migratory birds, but if there was one above all others that needs to be addressed I would say it is habitat loss."

According to the Eden study the top 10 list of endangered species in the UK are:

1 Red-necked phalarope

2 Black-tailed godwit

3 Scottish wildcat

4 Capercaillie

5 Cuckoo

6 Red squirrel

7 Turtle dove

8 Natterjack toad

9 Brown hare

10 Hedgehog