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HABITAT  - Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment (Editorial Overview Text Replicated on Overall Species page - Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog)

Hedgehogs range through habitats up to usually 400-600 m and exceptionally 1500-2000 m above sea level. A wide variety of habitats are utilised including farmland, deciduous woodland, hedgerows, suburban gardens, urban parks etc. "Edge habitat" may be preferred. Large areas of arable monoculture with heavy pesticide use and lack of hedgerows are not useful habitat. Appropriate habitats contain sufficient invertebrate prey and nesting materials.

(References are available in detailed literature reports below)

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General Habitat Type

Source Information
  • Population range up to 2000 metres (6500 feet) above sea level.(B260.1.w1)
  • Preferred habitat usually up to 400-600 m. However occur at higher altitudes in local areas, (exceptionally up to 1500-2000m e.g. Pyrénées and Alps). (B143)
  • Up to 2000 metres (6500 feet) above sea level in the Alps.(J82.18.w1)
  • Hedgehogs are numerous in farmland, forest, hedgerows, urban parks and gardens.(B254.3.w3, B261)
  • Hedgehogs are found in greatest numbers where grassland is in close proximity to woodland/scrub/hedgerow.(B142)
  • Hedgehog species range extends across the majority of lowland habitats, provided there is sufficient cover for nesting.(B142)
  • The hedgehog population in Britain is scarce or absent in areas of marsh, mountain, moorland and coniferous woodland habitat. This is thought to be due to the unavailability of appropriate food and nesting places in these habitat types.(B142, B147, B254.3.w3, B254.4.w4, B254.27.w27, B261, B262.5.w5)
  • Hedgehogs have been successful in colonising suburban environments. (P17.49.w1)
  • Hedgehogs are found in deciduous woodland, arable land with scrub or hedges, gardens, parks, sand dunes with vegetation cover nearby. (B255.2.w2)
  • Hedgehogs are found in deciduous woodland, scrub, moist grassland, gardens, meadows, edges of arable fields. Not found where there is no cover for nesting and hibernation. Not found above the tree-line in the Alps. (J82.18.w1)
  • Favourable hedgehog habitats include damp pasture land, woodland borders, hedgerows and gardens.(B261, B262.6.w6)
  • Hedgehog population densities are relatively high in habitats including small scale agricultural landscapes, urban areas with gardens and parks as compared with low densities in forests, large-scale agricultural areas, and urban city centres.(P35.4.w4)
  • Hedgehogs are less common in the dryer habitats of the Mediterranean. (B143)
  • Sandy heaths do not provide ideal hedgehog habitat since they have low numbers of invertebrate prey (e.g. earthworms) and may become particularly dry in summer.(B262.6.w6)
  • Arable farm land provides little useful habitat for hedgehogs. Use of agrochemical insecticides used to target crop pests also kill the invertebrate prey of the hedgehog. Removal of hedgerows and areas of waste land reduces availability of suitable 'winter nest' sites. Regular ploughing continually disturbs the habitat. (B254.28.w28, B262.6.w6)
  • Hedgehogs occur in mountainous areas up to the level of the tree line.(B254.3.w3)
  • The two main requirements are the presence of adequate invertebrates for food and appropriate shelters for day nests, breeding nests and for hibernation. (B258.w4)
  • Availability of nesting materials and suitable nest sites may be a significant factor determining hedgehog habitat distribution, for example, the lack of leaves in moorland and coniferous forestry. (B254.27.w27, B260.5.w5, B262.6.w6)
  • Hedgehogs are seen to forage in a variety of both natural and man-made habitats.(B228.3.w3)
  • Preference has been observed for "edge habitat" on the borders of fragmented woodland and hedgerows.(P35.4.w4)
  • Hedgehogs often live close to humans. (B258.w4)
  • Hedgehogs in Britain are abundant in suburban and urban habitats (e.g. park lands and gardens, cemeteries, railway verges).(B254.4.w4)
  • Hedgehogs are found in many lowland habitats providing sufficient nesting cover. (B341.3.w3)
  • Radio-tracking and observational data were used in an investigation of habitat use and density of the hedgehog population in Zurich, Switzerland. Hedgehogs were found to be distributed over 69% of the city, with high abundance in some areas (0.5-1.0 individuals per hectare) but low densities in central built-up space (e.g. houses, streets). 
    • Hedgehogs were found to use areas of back gardens, lawns, parks, hedgerows within the city.(P35.3.w4)
  • In New Zealand hedgehogs have been found in a wide variety of habitat types including pasture, shrubland, grassland, broadleaf forests, scrub, bracken etc, and have been trapped deep within untracked indigenous and exotic forests. (J190.31.w1)
    • One study found hedgehogs to be common in unlogged native forests which were far from any roads, as well as in older "exotic" forest. They were scarce along the cut forest edge along a road. (J209.20.w1)
  • Whilst hedgehogs cannot inhabit small completely confined areas of garden (e.g. 30 ft x 20 ft), in areas where gardens neighbour one another and the fences allow transgress, they will make use of the garden within their home range.(B254.4.w4)
    • Supplementary feeding of hedgehogs by members of the public within their garden is a common practice.(B254.4.w4, B254.13.w13)

B142, B143, B147, B228.3.w3, B254.3.w3, B254.4.w4, B254.13.w13, B254.27.w27, B254.28.w28, B258.w4, B260.1.w1, B260.5.w5, B261, B262.5.w5, B262.6.w6, B341.3.w3, P17.49.w1, P35.3.w4

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Authors & Referees

Authors Becki Lawson (V.w26)
Referee Suzanne I. Boardman (V.w6); Debra Bourne (V.w5); Nigel Reeve (V.w57)

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