Hedgehogs

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Hedgehogs are members of an order of mammals known as the Eulipotyphla, which also includes other curious-looking species such as moles and shrews. Globally, there are 43 proposed species in the hedgehog family (Erinaceidae) only one of which is found in Britain: the Western European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus).


Species


Questions

Are hedgehogs a threat to ground-nesting birds?

The short answer is yes, although there is debate over how significant this threat is.

Are hedgehogs declining in the UK and, if so, why?

Hedgehog populations appear to be decreasing, although it's difficult to quantify. Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, tidy gardens, pesticides and badgers may all have a role to play.

Can hedgehogs get drunk from eating rotting/fermenting fruit?

Possibly, although drunk-like behaviour is more likely to be a sign the hedgehog is seriously dehydrated.

Can rehabilitated hedgehogs be released back into the wild?

Yes, hedgehogs are non-territorial and provided they are in good health and a suitable weight seem to respond well to rehabilitation and release back to the wild.

Do hedgehogs carry bovine tuberculosis and/or other diseases that pose a danger to humans or livestock?

Hedgehogs have been implicated in transmission of several diseases, including tuberculosis, foot-and-mouth disease and rabies, but verified cases are rare.

Do hedgehogs eat slugs and snails?

Slugs and snails feature in the diet of hedgehogs, but less often than many people image and it tends only to be the small slugs and small, thin-shelled snails that are taken in any quantity.

Do hedgehogs hunt mice?

There are reports of them eating mice, but these are largely assumed to be carrion and there are no confirmed cases of them killing rodents.

Do slug pellets pose a risk to hedgehogs?

Probably. The evidence so far suggests the risk of poisoning is small, but the pellets may reduce the hedgehog’s prey base and have wider impacts in the ecosystem, so it seems prudent to err on the side of caution.

How many hedgehogs are there in the UK?

No one really knows, although the best guestimate suggests there are fewer than a million left in Britain, down from, perhaps, 2 million, in the mid-1990s.

How significant are foxes and badgers as predators of hedgehogs?

Foxes appear to take hedgehogs only rarely, while badgers can have a significant impact on hedgehog distribution.

Is it okay for me to feed wildlife?

Generally speaking, feeding appropriate food in appropriate quantities is fine. There can, however, be some unforeseen consequences to supplementary feeding.

What impacts do roads have on hedgehogs?

As well as the threat of being run over on them, roads fragment habitat and present pollution challenges to hedgehogs.

What is hibernation?

Hibernation is more than a winter sleep. It's a complete physiological readjustment.

Why haven’t hedgehogs evolved not to have late litters by now?

Evolution works with whatever genes the individual in question has – if a variation doesn’t exist, evolution cannot create it. Thus, we cannot expect something will evolve in a particular way that seems adaptive to us.


Bibliography

A Prickly Affair: My life with hedgehogs - by Hugh Warwick
Penguin Books -- 2008 -- ISBN: 978-1846140655

Dearest Prickles - by Walter & Christl Podushka
Neville Spearman -- 1972 -- ISBN: 978-0854352111

Hedgehogs - by Nigel Reeve
T&AD Poyser Ltd. -- 1996 -- ISBN: 978-0856610813

Hedgehogs - by Pat Morris
Whittet Books -- 2014 -- ISBN: 978-1873580905

Hedgehogs: A comprehensive study - by Konrad Herter
Phoenix House Publications -- 1996 -- ISBN: N/A

Rescuing the Disappearing Hedgehog - by Toni Bunnell
Toni Bunnell -- 2016 -- ISBN: 978-1782808909

St. Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital: Jaws the Hedgehog and Other Stories - by Les Stocker
Collins -- 1995 -- ISBN: 978-0006751816

The Complete Hedgehog - by Les Stocker
Chatto & Windus -- 1987 -- ISBN: 978-0701132729

The Day of the Hedgehog - by Hedgehog Street
BHPS / PTES -- 2015

The Disappearing Hedgehog - by Toni Bunnell
Toni Bunnell -- 2014 -- ISBN: 978-1782802365

The Hedgehog - by Maurice Burton
Corgi Publishing -- 1969 -- ISBN: 978-0552092104

The Hedgehog - by Pat Morris
The Mammal Society -- 2011 -- ISBN: 978-0906282717

The Natural Hedgehog - by Lenni Sykes & Jane Durrant
Gaia Books -- 1995 -- ISBN: 978-1856750738

The New Hedgehog Book - by Pat Morris
Whittet Books -- 2006 -- ISBN: 1-873580-71-1

The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-winkle - by Beatrix Potter
Collins/Frederick Warne & Co. -- 1905 -- ISBN: 978-0723247753

Wild Britain: Hedgehog - by Louise Spilsbury & Richard Spilsbury
Heinemann Library -- 2004 -- ISBN: 978-0431039381


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