Hedgehog

Hedgehog - Hedgehog
The Hedgehog is unmistakeable being the only spiny British mammal. The yellow-tipped 2cm spines on a grey/brown back and sides are perhaps the best known features of the Hedgehog which has relatively long legs and a short tail together with small eyes and ears.

The Hedgehog is common in parks, gardens and farmland throughout mainland UK. It has also been introduced to many islands including Orkney, Shetland, Isle of Man and some of the Channel Islands. Hedgehogs prefer woodland edges, hedgerows and suburban habitats where there is plenty of food for them. Intensively farmed arable land is probably a poor habitat as are moorlands and dense conifer forests. Hedgehogs survive well in gardens, particularly assisted by food put out for them as modern tidy gardens may not otherwise provide sufficient food.

The Hedgehog is generally nocturnal travelling around a mile each night feeding on a diet of beetles, worms, caterpillars, slugs and almost anything they can catch. They can also take the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds although rarely in large numbers.

The Hedgehog‘s hibernation usually begins about November and ends around Easter but it is much affected by the weather. They normally wake up several times over winter and often build a new nest. In the spring they commonly spend a few days active and then enter hibernation again during any cold snap. The winter nest or hibernaculum is made of leaves, tucked under a bush or log pile or garden shed or anywhere that offers support and protection.

The Hedgehog can live up to 10 years but this is exceptional. Over half die within their first year and average life expectancy is 2 to 3 years in the wild.

Hedgehogs may become locally scarce or even disappear but nationwide extinction is unlikely. Nevertheless, the Hedgehog appears to be in decline although the total population is unknown. The biggest threat to the Hedgehog is probably habitat loss with the change from pastoral farming to arable crops over the last 30 years. The use of chemicals in gardens and for intensive farming kills the creatures hedgehogs need for food and may also poison them directly. Many are also killed on the roads.

Date: 16th September 2011

Location: British Wildlife Centre, Surrey

Hedgehog


Also in: Hedgehog

Hedgehog
Hedgehog
Hedgehog
Hedgehog
Hedgehog
Hedgehog
Hedgehog
Hedgehog
  

Leave a comment

Your Name
Your Location
(Optional)
Your Email
(Optional)
Your Comment
No info required here, please press the button below.

Please note: Comments are manually approved before being shown.