The 75m electric fence erected by the staff of Sandringham Estate to protect newly planted seedlings from rabbits and deer was removed on after complaints made by British Hedgehog Preservation Society. The perception is that Hedgehogs are susceptible to electric fences because they can be killed by them.

The principal reason for that is a hedgehog does not elicit a flight mechanism when it is confronted by a threat. It simply curls up and relies on the prickles to protect it. Every other mammal will attempt to escape from a threat. As it curls up and still in contact with a live wire, it could be subjected to regular shocks as is normal with an electric fence. These continual shocks over a length of time, would be fatal.

Looking at the images showing the fence in question. Firstly it has been VERY badly erected. It is unlikely that the fence was working in the first place. There are clearly numerous strands of the fence touching the ground highlighted by arrows in the image. When these are touching the ground it immediately shorts out the fence and renders it inoperable.

Hedgehog Net.

When a net is correctly erected - the netting has a barrier in the first strand against the ground is NOT live so the hedgehog has to come into contact with the second horizontal twine. This is about 2.5mm above ground. The net is taut and clearly not dragging on the ground - it will be working correctly.

A second solution is to place a strip of Weed Suppressant or Builders Damp Course beneath the line of the netting. This has two benefits in this situation, firstly it reduces the amount of grass growing up into the netting and secondly it acts as an insulator to protect the hedgehog as it will be standing on the sheet and insulate it from the ground so preventing it from getting a shock. The image shows a correctly erected net with a length of suppressant beneath it

Correctly erected net

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  • A few years ago I very sadly found a large hedgehog dead, curled around the poultry netting. I used to find dead toads and frogs too, although not for a long time now, I keep trying to think of ways to prevent this and will try better support posts as in your pic. I have strips of black plastic underneath the fence too and I get rats and mice making a tunnel through under the plastic. Between that, hundreds of moles and rough ground, my electric fencing never looks the nice easy set up it could be. Currently 50 meters and planning to double it. I might try disconnecting the first live wire to help with hedgehogs.

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