The small English town united by the world's largest hedgehog highway

The Guardian has a wonderfully whimsical story about the town of Kirtlington in Oxfordshire, UK. The small village underwent a massive infrastructural overhaul in 2016 … specifically, for the hedgehogs who live there alongside the roughly 1,000 human residents.

More than 12,000 hedgehog holes have been created as part of the UK's hedgehog highway network, and Kirtlington has one of the most creative routes on the map. […] Powles's eureka moment came in 2016 when he saw hedgehog faeces in his garden. He started putting down food and then realised his hedgehogs needed somewhere to go other than on to the road, so he knocked a hole in the wall (and made miniature stairs) so they could get into his neighbour's garden.

Four years later, his hedgehog map indicates where these nocturnal mammals – which can walk for a mile each night – can safely travel. Coloured green are gardens already connected by holes, and in white are future territories to conquer (there are around 75 in total). "We hardly need a strategy – the hedgehogs have generated so much enthusiasm. Very few people say no to being involved in the highway," he says.


Powles asks each person when their last sighting was (numbers have sharply declined recently and it is not clear why) and by the end of the walk we've spoken to a dozen people. Talk of hedgehogs comes as easily to residents as comparing notes on the weather. "With neighbours who have fallen out – myself included and I won't say who with – hedgehogs have brought us back together again. The power of hedgehogs is right there," he says.

At least we know that Sonic has a place to retire now!

Prickly business: the hedgehog highway that knits a village together [Phoebe Weston / The Guardian]

Image: Public Domain via NeedPix