Torchlight hog survey success

Credit Paula Irish

Volunteers turned nocturnal for our seasonal torchlight surveys this month at our two “hedgehog hub” sites in Warwickshire.

The surveys help us to monitor what’s happening with our hedgehog populations over time, and volunteers get the chance to get up close and personal with our prickly friends. Fourteen people volunteered their time to go on the nocturnal search and they were rewarded with 21 hedgehogs across the two “hedgehog hub” sites, far more than the 13 that were encountered last September!

This was due to the increase in number found at Coombe Country Park. 17 hedgehogs were found (more than double that found in September 2018), with 10 of these encountered for the first time. 8 of these ‘newbies’ were this year’s young. 7 out of 14 hedgehogs previously tagged were re-encountered, 4 of which were first tagged in September 2018. 

One of the ‘hogs we found was ‘Basil’ – a ‘hog previously encountered in May and taken in for rehabilitation with a wound. It was really exciting seeing him doing so well (at 1182g!) with only minor superficial evidence of the injury. The adult ‘hogs found at Coombe were all over 950g, looking set and ready for hibernation. 

Similar to last September, only 4 hedgehogs were found at Castle Bromwich, 2 of which were encountered for the first time. 1 of the previously tagged ‘hogs is now missing a rear leg, which was present in September 2018. It appears to have healed well and naturally, and as one of our liveliest ‘hogs seen, he can certainly move about just fine. It is possible that his leg was swiped by a fox, or potentially a dog, a fairly common injury. The adult ‘hogs at Castle Bromwich were generally smaller than at Coombe at 700g or above, but still sufficient weights to hibernate (it is generally considered that 450g is the cut off). 

It is extremely encouraging that the numbers are so much higher at Coombe this year. The park and hotel are very supportive of our work and aim to manage the grounds sympathetically – this may be helping the hedgehogs to thrive.

However, the number of hedgehogs encountered at Castle Bromwich remains small and indeed the ‘hogs encountered seemed fairly small themselves. Some of the hedgehogs may be in the dense and high vegetation, so there may be more which were not spotted during the surveys. Again, the gardens are keen to help as much as they can, managing the area organically and increasing nesting habitat – every effort is needed to help these urban ‘hogs it seems.

The marking of these hedgehogs will help us to monitor these populations into the future. The work could not have been done without those who kindly volunteered their time. More about what happens on our surveys can be seen in the film below. 

Credit Simon Watts / WILD Presentations