Ecology, threats and conservation action
IUCN Red List Least Concern but marked declines in the UK make it a UK Priority Species. Between the years 2000-2014, urban populations have declined by up to a third, and rural populations by over half. See the State of Hedgehogs 2015 report for more information.
Feeds mainly on macro-invertebrates such as beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, slugs and spiders and will infrequently eat eggs, frogs and fallen fruit.
Found in a wide range of habitats, both in urban and rural areas. Common in gardens but in rural areas tend to utilise edge habitats and hedgerows. Absent from wet habitats, pine forests and mountainous regions.
This is a flexible process influenced by temperature and food availability. Hogs will often wake up several times during winter and may even move nests. Winter nests are made from fallen leaves under support structures such as log piles, brambles or sheds.
Can travel ~2km in night, making access through gardens incredibly important. One hedgehog has been recorded travelling 9km in one night!
Can breed any time between April- September with the peak season being May-June. Litter sizes are often 4-5 hoglets, with just 2-3 of these surviving to independence.
The main predator of the hedgehog is the European badger, but it can also be predated upon by foxes and pet dogs.
Disease & Parasites
Parasites are common inhabitants of hedgehogs, especially fleas (which are specific to hedgehogs) and ticks. The presence of these are normal, though overburden of ticks may be indicative of general ill health. Hedgehogs can also have ringworm, lungworm and Salmonellosis. More information about these diseases can be found here.
Hedgehogs face a wide range of threats, though the causes of decline are not fully understood. Loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation through farming practises and urbanisation are a large issue. Impermeable boundaries such as fences and walls make navigating urban areas difficult and over-tidy gardens reduce important habitat. Other threats include reduced abundance of invertebrates from chemical use, habitat deterioration combined with increased badger density, and the unknown impacts of disease and climate change.
The national campaign Hedgehog Street is mobilising community action to help improve the status of hedgehogs across the UK. This is the format in which our own Ipswich project is built upon – enthusing communities to create a street by street network of gardens managed for hedgehogs and other wildlife. Other important action conducted by organisations and universities in the UK includes scientific research to better understand the species ecology, population status and threats, development of survey methodologies, and working with housing developers and land managers to increase awareness and enable hedgehogs to be considered in their plans.
The easiest ways to detect hedgehogs are looking for their droppings, using trail cameras or conducting a footprint survey. Tips for identifying hedgehog poo here, and how to make a footprint tunnel here. Footprint tunnels and trail cameras can be borrowed by Ipswich residents and community groups as part of our Ipswich Hedgehog Project.