Brackley HogWatch Radio Tracking Study

Primary aim

Investigating the dispersal and mortality of an amputee hedgehog casualty (Erinaceus Europaeus) compared with other released autumn juvenile hedgehogs with four legs.

Secondary aims

1 – to evaluate the average dispersal and mortality of autumn juvenile hedgehogs released, in order to compare against future studies.
2 – to record exactly where our wild hedgehogs currently live in Brackley i.e. residential, commercial, waste or recreational areas etc.
3 – to record the dispersal of juveniles released back into their known home range, compared with others being returned to areas unknown to them

Additional aims

1 – testing the smallest ever transmitters, at 3 grams each
2 – testing some of the latest bio-tracking equipment
3 – evaluating procedures for best tag fitting procedure, and location on hedgehog
4 – to understand whether traffic noise on the ring rd (A43 & A422) is impacting on the behaviour of hedgehogs
5 – to locate people who feed the hedgehogs already, to further encourage them.
6 – to examine the effect of winter flooding on hedgehogs

I am a hedgehog carer, registered with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. In November and December 2011 I searched locally every night for juvenile hedgehogs that would not have survived the winter. From November onwards the minimum weight for hedgehogs to survive outside is 600g. Any under this weight must be brought inside to survive. The seven hedgehogs that I found were between 260g and 451g. All have now been  released back into the wild.

One was found with a rear leg missing. All local vets and many wildlife hospitals would have put this animal to sleep. Vale are under the opinion that suitable amputees should be released back into the wild. ‘Humphrey’ was found to have no other injury, and it was decided that he was suitable for surgery, some further amputation was required. I collected him again on 8th March. He was released on Wednesday 8th May 2012 from a secret location in Brackley. His progress is being monitored and recorded.

Data recording

Each hedgehog is located once during the day each day, and its location accurately recorded. The hedgehog is not disturbed. This will continue for at least 6 months. Locations are plotted using a GPS Logger.