A CAMPAIGN highlighting the problems facing hedgehogs looking for a mate is calling on more to be done to help the creatures.

Hedgehog numbers have plummeted since the turn of the millennium.

Last year, Sustaining Dunbar launched an initiative to highlight their numbers.

Jen Walker, Dunbar Pledgehog officer, encouraged people to make their gardens hedgehog friendly.

She said: “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.”

A space of about 13cm squared can be cut in the bottom of a fence or gate to allow the animals to move around.

Hedgehogs reproduce between April and September but the period of greatest activity – “the rut” – is in May and June, when 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 was run by Sustaining Dunbar throughout 2023 thanks to funding from Dunbar and East Linton Area Partnership.

It hopes to find new funding for the rest of 2024 to engage with the community and build new partnerships and initiatives to benefit hedgehog conservation.