Interestingly, there were fewer hedgehogs where there were badgers, their main predator.Researchers said the mammals were facing a “perfect storm”, and that there is something “fundamentally wrong with our countryside”.First author Ben Williams, a PhD student at the University of Reading, explained: “Although hedgehogs were generally widely distributed, they were actually found at a worryingly low number of sites.”The analysis, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was funded by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). It is the most comprehensive to date. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Hedgehogs are disappearing from the British countryside because they are being devoured by badgers, a study has found.Researchers said the mammals, which are increasingly having to move to urban areas, are now present in just a fifth of the countryside.Regular destruction of habitat with heavy agricultural machinery – as well as the use of pesticides in intensive farming – is also said to be wiping out the worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes it feeds on.In the first study of its kind scientists found the creature inhabited just 21 percent of 261 rural sites surveyed across England and Wales.They used ‘footprint tracking tunnels’ to show the nocturnal animals are more thinly spread in the UK than previously feared.