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Hedgehog Hibernation Could Hold Clue To Climate Change

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Wasn't sure where to put this one, but on BBC radio this morning and in the following article, scientists are asking us to take part in a survey to see if the mammals are coming out earlier - or even later.

I know there are quite a few hedgehog fans on the forum, so here's the link to the survey and the article from the Telegraph:

http://www.hedgehogstreet.org/pages/hibernation-survey.html

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A new study of hedgehogs could provide the latest clue on climate change by finding out if the prickly creatures are coming out of hibernation earlier or later. Usually hedgehogs, made famous by the Beatrix Potter Miss Tiggywinkle story, come out of their winter hibernation in March. However as the climate changes, scientists want to know if the mammals are coming out earlier - or even later.

The People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) also want to know why populations are declining. Recent research has show that populations of hedgehogs have dropped by at least a quarter in the past decade, with numbers declining over the long term from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s to 1.5 million in 1995.

Conservationists say the species has been hit by the loss of habitat in the countryside, such as hedgerows and grassland, more intensive agriculture, use of pesticides which reduce their food sources and more badgers.In urban areas, tidier and more sterile gardens divided up with impassible fences and walls also pose a problem for the mammal.

The charities said research in the 1970s revealed a direct link between hibernation and climate, showing hedgehogs emerged up to three weeks earlier in the south west of England than Scotland, with inactivity relating to coldness and length of winter. Typically the species hibernates between November and the end of March when food is scarce, in order to conserve energy. Dr Pat Morris, who conducted the original research, said the new study could show if climate change is affecting hedgehogs.

"Age, sex and weather all appear to influence the timing of hedgehog hibernation. "For example, young animals may remain fully active into December, no doubt seeking to develop sufficient fat reserves to ensure survival during subsequent hibernation. "Also, adult females that have had late litters or may still be lactating will need to feed intensively before hibernating, causing them to be active for longer than adult males.

"However, mild weather can also delay hedgehogs entering into hibernation or elicit premature awakening, impacting on the creature's fat reserves and breeding times and consequently affecting the long-term survival of the species."

The survey starts on February 1 and can be competed online.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9020973/Hedgehog-hibernation-could-hold-clue-to-climate-change.html

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I saw plenty of hedgehogs during December, unfortunately most of them were squashed on the road :cray:

So far this January though I havent seen any so possibly they are now finally hibernating.

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I foster hedgehogs over winter from a wildlife rescue centre. These hogs are too small to successfully hibernate (under 500g) so to give them their best chance they are rescued, cured of any ills and then fostered by volunteers like me. My two had, until 1 week ago, refused to hibernate - I believe due to the mild weather (although with me feeding them and cleaning them out daily they're spoilt rotten!) They're in a hutch in my garage (so slightly less cold than outdoors) and I am expecting them to break hibernation again soon if this further mild spell continues but will have to wait and see.

I also get hogs in my garden but as yet I have not seen any signs of them this year. I have 2 occupied hog houses in the garden and both are currently undisturbed so the hogs inside are hibernating. They always leave me "poo presents" so I tend to know when they're out and about plus I would probably see them in the evenings when I am outside having a cig.

I also know that ARG (Amphibian & Reptile Groups) across the UK are asking people to keep an eye out for early frogspawn in ponds and sightings can be recorded here. I have seen frogs in my ponds throughout this "winter" (usually, during a cold winter, I wouldn't) and won't be suprised to see early spawn too!

I must admit, one of my main concerns is this prolonged spell of mild winter. I worry that it will confuse nature / wildlife with, for example, pollen-rich plants flowering too early thus ending too early this year - time will tell I guess.

Cheers

Purplepixii

(aka Treehugger, Hog & Frog lover and general Squirrel chaser)

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everyone can help by giving them somewhere to live. adult hedgehogs have no natural predators. its the babies who are vulnerable. many babies are killed by dogs and cats, dug out from inadequate nesting places or those that have been disturbed by gardeners etc.

it just so happens i can help in that area if anyone is interested-

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http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/300643389687?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

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Ah I love hoggys!

We used to get loads in my parents home, but there was a sudden drop off and they hardly ever see them anymore.

I would be interested in one of those things but I don't think they could into my garden in the first place as we have panel fencing on all 3 sides.

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Lauren can you make a hole in the fence at the bottom somewhere? Just needs to be big enough for a hog to get through although saying that I also get some going under a fence into my garden (they know where the food is!)

Nice hog-house Bobbydog, I'll bear it in mind when my other wooden one rots away! Oh and hogs do have one natural predator - the badger! It's the only natural predator as it is strong enough to rip open a hog which has curled up in self-defence. Personally I've never seen this happen nor do I want to as I love hogs :sorry:

If you do get hogs in your garden then putting a bowl of fresh water down daily will help, especially during hot summers. Hedgehog food can be purchased in pet shops or online which is made so that it doesn't appeal to other animals such as cats. I feed my hogs Go-Cat (Adult) Rabbit, Turkey & Vegetable which they love however I've made a hog-size tunnel in the garden which leads to their food bowl so the cats & foxes can't get in. Do not feed milk, bread or products including fish as it isn't in their natural diet :)

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Ah I love hoggys!

We used to get loads in my parents home, but there was a sudden drop off and they hardly ever see them anymore.

I would be interested in one of those things Coast but I don't think they could into my garden in the first place as we have panel fencing on all 3 sides.

if your garden is completely sealed, its unlikely they would get in, though they can squeeze through small gaps. i do know of some people who have made small holes in their fences to allow runs for them.

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I don't thinking making a hole in my fence for hogs would be appreciated!

We have massive farm fileds out the back so i would imagine that is their natural environment.

might buy some hog houses for my parents though.

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My landlord has two baby hogs in his house.Haven't seen them yet although I would love to! We have a hedgehog box in our garden which also backs onto small fields and a river. I sent off for a pack and I'm looking forward to helping. Any kind of help involving nature and wildlife brings great pleasure to me. :)

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bats are another animal suffering from habitat loss in the same way as hedgehogs, but people don't think of bats as cute in the way they do hedgehogs. i've got a bat-box in the garden but no residents yet. hopefully i might get some this year. i love watching them flying round the garden on a summers evening. incidentally, i do make and sell them if anyone is interested

here's mine-

$%28KGrHqUOKooE6eMQO,4dBO%29RQlY0-g%7E%7E60_1.JPG

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bats are another animal suffering from habitat loss in the same way as hedgehogs, but people don't think of bats as cute in the way they do hedgehogs. i've got a bat-box in the garden but no residents yet. hopefully i might get some this year. i love watching them flying round the garden on a summers evening. incidentally, i do make and sell them if anyone is interested

here's mine-

$%28KGrHqUOKooE6eMQO,4dBO%29RQlY0-g%7E%7E60_1.JPG

A bat flew in my face when i was ickle and I haven't liked them ever since (the image of the bats face coming towards mine has been burned into my brain). We see them flying around in the evening from a distance and that's enough for me.

Of course i wish no ill on our bats and they deserve to be protected.

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A bit off-topic, I know, but ladybirds are apparently never wrong: when they overwinter undergound or inside hollow trees, the winter is always cold; when they only stay on trees and walls, it's always mild...

Atleast, that is what I read somewhere. It could be trash?

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bats are another animal suffering from habitat loss in the same way as hedgehogs, but people don't think of bats as cute in the way they do hedgehogs.

I do! I'm a Bat Conservation Trust member, I have a bat detector and will be getting training for a licence soon too! I also love newts and am in the process of being trained for a license to handle Great Crested Newts too! I guess it wont suprise anyone to hear that I'm studying a Conservation & Wildlife Management degree at the moment (finish in June) :yahoo:

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I have a bat detector

:shok:

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I wonder if this could be extended to frogs - to me depending on the severity of the weather, their spawning appears to vary quite a lot - I have seen spawn as early as February and not sure when the latest time is, probably April.

It appears to be very much weather related and probably dependant on the temperature of the water - does anybody have some further info?

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I wonder if this could be extended to frogs - to me depending on the severity of the weather, their spawning appears to vary quite a lot - I have seen spawn as early as February and not sure when the latest time is, probably April.

It appears to be very much weather related and probably dependant on the temperature of the water - does anybody have some further info?

Funnily enough Mike that's what I'm doing my final thesis on - frog spawning times in Hampshire and whether the weather and location of the pond (urban or rural) have an effect on spawning times. Got spawning data from early 1810, just gotta grab the weather data now (from the M.O. I guess) :)

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Never see a Hedgehog in my garden, no traces of them either; the garden backs onto open countryside with nothing but a few trees and sheepwire to keep the dogs in. It would be ideal hog territory but they'd have to get past the enormous Badger sett just the other side of the boundary, I assume they're either not too keen on that idea or Mr. Brock gobbles them up on route.

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Funnily enough Mike that's what I'm doing my final thesis on - frog spawning times in Hampshire and whether the weather and location of the pond (urban or rural) have an effect on spawning times. Got spawning data from early 1810, just gotta grab the weather data now (from the M.O. I guess) :)

Sorry, I haven't documented the spawning times and weather on my garden pond - it may have helped - will look forward to your conclusions.

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