How to recycle your real Christmas tree
Follow Denis the Dustcart on his Facebook page to keep up with
information about Recycling issues.

  • ECC garden waste customers can put their real Christmas tree out for collection with or without their brown bin on their first garden collection of the year (collections begin again in late January – see from mid- January for your specific collection date).
  • You can also take it to one of Devon County Council’s recycling centres in Exeter – either in Marsh Barton or on Pinbrook Road. You can sign up to Hospiscare’s real tree collection scheme for a donation: Sue Cordery

Knowing Creation, Knowing God : Hibernating Hedgehogs

On a cold and sleepless winter’s night – particularly if you’re used to warmer climes –being able to hibernate like a hedgehog might seem appealing. In UK hedgehogs usually tuck themselves up from around October/November, though in warm years they might be active until December. But while hibernation is indeed a strategy for surviving the winter when food is scarce, it is very different from a long and luxurious sleep.

Photo by Hrald on Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

During hibernation hedgehogs go into a “near death” condition in which metabolism more or less stops, and stored fat reserves are used up extremely slowly. Body temperature falls from 35°C to 10°C or less, and the hedgehog’s heart rate drops by almost 90%. A breath may be taken only once every few minutes.
This state of suspended animation doesn’t continue uninterrupted until spring when
hibernation ends. Every so often a hibernating hedgehog “wakes up” for a day or so, perhaps due to being disturbed, or if the weather becomes too warm or too cold. Research suggests that hibernating hedgehogs may even need to wake up once in a while in order to get some real sleep, as all the important and necessary mechanisms that operate during normal sleep don’t happen during hibernation.

During these periods of wakefulness hedgehogs may stay in the special nest they
built in autumn, but in some cases they move house, finding or building a new nest to settle in. Normal metabolism resumes, which means food is needed when it’s likely to be scarce, so these are potentially dangerous times. Nests may be underneath sheds, hedges or tree roots, as well as in piles of brushwood compost heaps or old rabbit burrows.

Photo by Gibe on Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Determining the population of hedgehogs is difficult, but using various sources of data, it’s estimated that the number of hedgehogs in Great Britain may have halved in the last two decades. In 2020 hedgehogs were put on the IUCN Red List of species vulnerable to extinction in this country. There are probably several reasons for this decline, which seems to be more serious in rural than urban habitats. There is even some indication that in urban areas the population may be starting to recover, albeit from low levels.
Perhaps all the efforts to be kind to hedgehogs are having some effect. As their main food is slugs, caterpillars and other insects, hedgehogs should be welcome visitors to any garden. There are various ways to encourage them, and help them to prepare for and survive hibernation:

  • Make holes in or under fences so that their nocturnal foraging isn’t interrupted
  • Provide food (meaty cat or dog food is good, but not bread)
  • Provide water to drink (but not milk)
  • Avoid using slug pellets and other poisons
  • Leave areas of the garden wildBuild bonfires only on the day they will be burnt
  • Avoid disturbing places where hedgehogs might be hibernating

There are lots more suggestions and tips at If you find a hedgehog that looks injured or unwell (check symptoms at, put it in a high-sided cardboard box, keep it somewhere warm and quiet, and offer it some meaty cat or dog food and fresh water. Call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890 801, and they’ll link you up to a local rescue volunteer who can provide intensive care.

Roger Day.