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Last Updated: Wednesday May 28 2008 06:58 GMT

Hedgehogs rubbish at road safety

A hedgehog

Now this might not surprise you, but it seems that hedgehogs really are rubbish when it comes to crossing the road.

In some parts of the UK, the number of hedgehogs have almost halved and researchers say it could be because the prickly critters can't cope in traffic.

Scientists found the animals tended to wait until vehicles were too close before trying to cross, then froze on the spot instead of trying to run away.

It's thought about 15,000 hedgehogs are killed on the roads every year.

Hedgehogs quiz
A baby hedgehog

Scientists from the University of London studied hedgehogs on a road at night to see how they reacted to headlights and noises like engines starting.

Despite the dangers, roads are thought to be attractive to hedgehogs as they attract insects to feed on and the tarmac is warmer than cold grass.

While there's not much that can be done to make roads safer for hedgehogs, experts say more could be done to help them by protecting hedges and their natural habitats.