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Hedgehogs

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: General
Forum Name: Off-Topic Forum
Forum Description: A Forum for off-topic discussions
URL: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=5129
Printed Date: 17 Jul 2019 at 7:53am
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Topic: Hedgehogs
Posted By: chubsta
Subject: Hedgehogs
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2017 at 4:54pm
Well, here in the South East it is lovely and warm and all the hogs are coming out of hibernation - one of my 'rescue' hogs who i tried to fatten up last December, and who eventually had to be released to hibernate even though he wasn't putting on any weight (no cause was found, just the runt of the litter i guess) is back and although still tiny is obviously in good health. Plenty of others around too, including one who weighed 1.5kg at the end of hibernation so should be a monster when he has fattened himself up.

Anyone else seeing hedgehogs around, would love to hear some reports of your populations.



Replies:
Posted By: Suzi
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2017 at 11:12pm
What sort of habitat do yours have?I I live in rural East Devon and sadly so many end up squashed on the roads. We do get them in the gardens here but they seem drawn to the road.

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Suz


Posted By: chubsta
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2017 at 11:27pm
I live in a smallish village between Folkestone and Dover right on the coast, normal mixed housing, although it seems like big developers are buying up all the surrounding land to put identikit box houses up, which will probably be the end of all our wildlife...

we are surrounded by busy roads as you can probably imagine, with all the traffic for Dover, but we seem to have a good population of hedgehogs - what we don't have are any badgers in the village so that may help.




Posted By: Suzi
Date Posted: 26 Mar 2017 at 9:05pm
As mentioned I get hedgehogs occasionally. We do have badgers, but the badgers don't seem to bother the hedgehogs that I've observed. In fact I've got photos of them feeding side by side on peanuts. Sometimes there is some hissing and huffing and puffing, but I've never seen the badgers attack the hedgehogs. I think if badgers are well l fed they might not be so keen on eating hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are keen on peanuts which is a less messy food than meat to dish up, although not a complete meal like meat is.

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Suz


Posted By: chubsta
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 2:57pm
Originally posted by Suzi Suzi wrote:

As mentioned I get hedgehogs occasionally. We do have badgers, but the badgers don't seem to bother the hedgehogs that I've observed. In fact I've got photos of them feeding side by side on peanuts. Sometimes there is some hissing and huffing and puffing, but I've never seen the badgers attack the hedgehogs. I think if badgers are well l fed they might not be so keen on eating hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are keen on peanuts which is a less messy food than meat to dish up, although not a complete meal like meat is.

I did read a while back that the 'conflict' between hedgehogs and badgers generally occurs in areas where both populations are under pressure - because they tend to eat the same food everything is fine until it runs low and then the badgers tend to eat the hedgehogs - unfortunately this is occurring more and more often as badger populations increase but their habitat is degraded, A similar thing has been seen with foxes and hedgehogs where some populations will eat hogs, whereas in my garden the hogs tend to chase the foxes off!

Regarding diet, i find individual animals can be very picky - because i 'mark' mine to identify them (we have terrible problems with lungworm around here so many require treatment) i know who eats what - some will only eat peanuts, others only dog meat or sunflower seeds, it is an unusual hog that eats a varied diet as far as i can tell, some don't even eat mealworms whereas others go mad for them.

Glad to hear you have them around, as with so much wildlife their numbers are dropping catastrophically and populations are getting more and more isolated.


Posted By: PondDragon
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 10:14pm
Originally posted by chubsta chubsta wrote:

I did read a while back that the 'conflict' between hedgehogs and badgers generally occurs in areas where both populations are under pressure - because they tend to eat the same food everything is fine until it runs low and then the badgers tend to eat the hedgehogs - unfortunately this is occurring more and more often as badger populations increase but their habitat is degraded

The trouble with this logic is that it's hard to reconcile degraded habitat with an increasing badger population - if their habitat is being degraded then surely their population should decline, not increase.


Posted By: chubsta
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2017 at 1:57pm
Originally posted by PondDragon PondDragon wrote:

Originally posted by chubsta chubsta wrote:

I did read a while back that the 'conflict' between hedgehogs and badgers generally occurs in areas where both populations are under pressure - because they tend to eat the same food everything is fine until it runs low and then the badgers tend to eat the hedgehogs - unfortunately this is occurring more and more often as badger populations increase but their habitat is degraded

The trouble with this logic is that it's hard to reconcile degraded habitat with an increasing badger population - if their habitat is being degraded then surely their population should decline, not increase.

I understand what you are getting at but around here we are starting to see more and more badgers, particularly in villages where they havent been seen before, setts are springing up very close to humans whereas before they tended to be in woodland etc. The fact they are now scavenging in peoples gardens may indicate that they are changing their behaviours, and it is exactly in these areas that they are more likely to be competing with hedgehogs for food as the hedgehog is now pretty rare in the countryside and is increasingly being confined to 'safe areas' in villages where supplemental feeding takes place.

The fox is a great example of how quickly things can change, urban foxes are now far more likely to be seen than 'wild' ones due to intensive farming reducing their food opportunities in the countryside. The reduction in badger 'hunting' has undoubtedly resulted in a spring upwards in their numbers, but it doesn't necessarily follow that this is a result of improved habitat, in fact a 'perceived' increase due to more human contact may be a definite sign that they are being forced out of their normal habitats.

perhaps i should have termed it 'an increased badger population in urban areas due to degraded habitat'...


Posted By: PondDragon
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2017 at 6:58pm
I think the increase in badger numbers in closer proximity to villages etc is probably simply the result of increasing numbers generally and decreasing persecution. Plus of course if people put food out (for them or other species) that will also attract them. I don't see any reason to link it with declining habitat unless you have evidence that numbers in other habitats are declining. Farmers also wouldn't be so vociferous in calling for a cull if rural badgers were declining, rather than increasing.

Lots of species are obviously doing badly because of poor habitat, but I don't think badgers are one of them. Persecution aside, they actually seem to greatly benefit from a human-modified landscape where we have wiped out their former natural predators and created lots of farmland with high numbers of worms. It might look poor habitat from a herpetological point of view, but from a badger's perspective average farmland is actually just fine.


Posted By: Iowarth
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2017 at 11:47pm
Well, for whatever reason, we are seeing what I might call "semi-urban" badgers where I live. In fact, I have a badger dig (I say a "dig" because a single burrow hardly qualifies as a whole sett although it is being used) down the bottom of my garden in an intentionally overgrown area about 100ft from our house but separated by just a fence from a neighbour's house only 30ft away. Couple that with a good number of foxes I do wonder if this might account for a strong reduction in hogs - despite me and neighbours having "hog holes" in fences and walls. (mine are labeleld "Interstellar highway for amphibians, reptiles and small mammals"!


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Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)


Posted By: chubsta
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2017 at 7:24am
There was a 'conference' a couple of years back called 'the day of the hedgehog' which looked at loads of scientific data, and also called on the experiences of hedgehog rehabilitators etc around the country, unfortunately it is generally accepted that an area with a strong badger population will soon have a non-existent hedgehog population. There may be incidences where the two species co-exist 'peacefully' for a short period but generally the hedgehog will end up as prey for the badgers.

I have no animosity towards badgers, they are just doing what badgers have always done, but unfortunately they are a huge pressure on hedgehogs at a time when the population is crashing and i can genuinely foresee a time in my lifetime where the Uk population of hedgehogs is no longer viable - this will be a shame as i think they are fantastic creatures, but i suppose they will just be another victim of modern farming practices and unsympathetic development of land, like so many other species.




Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2017 at 2:40pm
This is quite interesting,  I could have easily accepted the 'degraded' habitat argument.  I think though PondDragon may have a fair point.

This is obviously anecdotal, but compare our situation in Essex.

We have badgers around for sure, I see the occasional road kill.

We have half a dozens hogs or more frequent the garden.

I have never seen a badger anywhere near the house or garden. Foxes come in, but never badgers.

We are in rural Essex, so are surrounded by acres and acres of arable farmland. It may well be the badgers feel no need at all to come close to us nasty humans. The hogs though benefit it seems from the log and brash piles I have in the wildlife garden and can be observed most nights foraging around.

I have never provided food for our hogs, they seem to thrive on what is naturally available to them here.


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2017 at 10:46am
sadly the traffic has been instrumental in the decline of hedgehogs along with gardens in towns being concreted over for parking and patios

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2017 at 5:32pm
That is becoming a trend out here too Keith. More and more people are hard paving front gardens for parking and making rear gardens low maintenance with patios. 

Unfortunately we feel a bit obliged to do it as well, it is kind of expected to keep the value of the property. We can always compensate though by providing the wildlife garden as an area of suitable habitat. Just wish more people would seek the balance and at least consider wildlife, our gardens are practically all hogs and many other species have in the way of suitable habitat now.



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