KEEP an eye out for any furry friends visiting your garden this spring, as your observations could go towards helping to save the future of British wildlife.

From April, wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is calling for volunteers to take part in its annual Living with Mammals survey, in which members of the public take note of the various wildlife wandering through their garden, or which they spot in any green spaces when out and about.

The chosen survey site can be in an urban, suburban or rural location, so long as the area is within 200 metres of a building.

“Long-term surveys such as Living with Mammals offer invaluable data to conservationists working to save Britain’s wildlife, as they reflect which wildlife are thriving, whilst indicating which might need some extra help. It’s a health check on our towns and cities of sorts,” said PTES surveys officer David Wembridge.

“For example, through the help of the public taking part of surveys such as these, we’ve been able to notice at least half of the hedgehog population has been lost from the countryside in the last two decades.

“Intensive farming has had a large impact on rural wildlife, particularly the use of pesticides and insect repellents which starve animals such as hedgehogs from their food resource.

“Now that more animals are setting up habitats in urban areas, we’re having to think about the ways in which we can care for them, so we’ve been working really hard to help hedgehogs in the urban landscape and we’re now starting to see positive effects, which is very encouraging.”

Top tips David shares for making your garden hedgehog friendly include: cutting a small circular hole (about the size of a CD) at the bottom of your fence to allow hedgehogs to move freely between gardens, keep tree stumps rather than dig them out as they make brilliant buffets of insects and vertebrates which are a staple in many wildlife’s diet.

Ponds are always a fantastic source of aquatic insects for wildlife to tuck into. Just make sure to add shallow sides, which will allow any animal to find its way out easy should it fall in.

Finally, keep a pile of leaves in one corner of the garden, providing the perfect home for hibernating hedgehogs.

“Small things such as these can really help to keep population numbers high, making a real difference to urban mammals,” said David.

Results from last year’s PTES survey showed that the top five mammals recorded in order were grey squirrels, foxes, mice, hedgehogs and bats.

This year, the charity is particularly keen on receiving figures from the North-East, because of the region’s abundance in rare British wildlife.

“You are lucky in the North-East region to have wildlife which are quite tricky to spot in other parts of Britain – animals such as red squirrels and water voles, so we’d be intrigued to see what the findings were in that part of the world,” said David.

“Unlike grey squirrels, their red siblings tend to hide higher up in the trees, so it might be worth bringing a pair of binoculars if you want to go on the lookout.”

Other mammals which are trickier, but not impossible to spot in this part of the country, include the elusive otter, pine martens, dormice and brown hares.

“Now, as the weather warms up, is the best time to go wildlife spotting because they’ll be a large variety to see, and the signs they leave behind, such as footprints or droppings.”

Volunteers are asked to record their findings online at, which also has further information on how to spot mammals, and how to correctly tell a pine marten from a polecat.