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Sustaining Dunbar’s ‘Pledgehog Project’ wants to spread the love this Valentine’s Day by asking everyone to help lonely hedgehogs and are highlighting the problems faced by hedgehogs looking for a mate.  

Jen Walker, Dunbar Pledgehog Officer explains, “As hedgehogs come out of winter hibernation their thoughts turn to breeding. Amorous males will travel long distances, around a mile a night, in search of female partners. However, the road to love can be a rocky one and hedgehogs face many man-made barriers in their environment. As well as making it difficult for a hedgehog to find a mate, these obstacles can cause populations to become isolated which could reduce genetic diversity.

Hedgehogs are now classed as ‘at risk of extinction’ in the UK. We have lost a third of our hedgehogs since the Millenium. One of the main reasons they are struggling is because our fences and walls are becoming more and more secure. 

(Reports Hedgehog Street, which is a partnership between The British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species). 

Jen continues, “I’d like to ask everyone to think like a hedgehog this Valentine’s Day and look at their gardens or outdoor spaces to see if hedgehogs could travel through them. They only need a 13 cm squared gap, the size of a CD case, which can be cut into the bottom of a gate or fence (or even dug underneath) to let them move around. Even better if you can do this between you and your neighbours gardens to create a Hedgehog Highway around the neighbourhood.”.

A local resident, Lindsey Budge, recently had her fence replaced by East Lothian Council and asked for a hedgehog gap to be included which the team happily did.

She said “I saw a hedgehog in my garden for the first time last year thanks to borrowing a feeding station and night-time camera from the Pledgehog Project. It was brilliant to know there is one in the area and I’m keen to make my garden a good place for hedgehogs. It’s fantastic that my new fence has a gap to let them in. If you’re getting a new fence don’t forget to include a hedgehog highway too!”.

Hedgehogs reproduce between April and September but the period of greatest activity ‘the rut’ is in May and June where males attempt to woo a female in lengthy courtship encounters with lots of ritualised circling and snorting. The female eventually adopts a special position with her spines flattened to allow mating.

The Dunbar Pledgehog Project has been run by Sustaining Dunbar throughout 2023 thanks to funding from the Dunbar and East Linton Area Partnership. It hopes to find new funding for the rest of 2024 to continue to engage with the community and to build new partnerships and initiatives to benefit hedgehog conservation.

Let love travel this Valentine’s Day! 💕🦔💕

Please see Hedgehog Street for more information about how to create your own hedgehog highway. Please send any photos to

A video of the hedgehog seen in Lyndsey’s garden.