Hedgehogs at large
Many of us enjoy regular visits from hedgehogs and do our best to encourage them. Some of us even become quite fond of ‘our’ hedgehog, often getting to know them individually. However, latest research suggests that the hedgehog world is really rather complex, and the ’hog we think we’ve got to know may be a complete stranger.
Studies using telemetry, with individual hedgehogs carrying radio transmitters on their spines, have shown that males typically travel between one and two miles a night, with a maximum of about two and half miles being the farthest straight-line distance likely to be covered. Females are only slightly less adventurous.
To add to the confusion, the prickly pigs do not have home territories they defend but simply have a home range they wander over, which is usually shared with a number of others. In the summer males will use a fresh day-time nest almost every day while females may use the same one for a week or more.
We have also learnt that some hedgehogs have a stay-at-home nature, seldom wandering far, while others are inveterate wanderers travelling widely and unpredictably. The hedgehog may be one of our most familiar and best-loved mammals but it remains a creature of mystery.
To find out more about travelling ’hogs, read the New Hedgehog Book by Pat Morris from the Whittet Wildlife Library.