Survival and weight changes of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) translocated from the Hebrides to Mainland Scotland

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2006
Authors:H. Warwick, Morris, P., Walker, D.
Keywords:Hedgehogs, Mammals

Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are being killed on the Uists, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in an attempt to improve the breeding success of ground nesting birds. Translocation of hedgehogs was considered as an option, but dismissed on welfare grounds. The principal concern was that translocated animals would starve. The present study set out to test this hypothesis. Twenty hedgehogs from the Uists were released on the Scottish mainland at Eglinton Country Park, Irvine and radio tracked for a month to ascertain whether or not the animals were going to starve in their new environment. Seven of the twenty radio tracked hedgehogs showed significant weight gains, five maintained their weight, and three lost weight. Two of the hedgehogs that lost weight died during the study. There were three early deaths from predation and drowning, one from a pre-existing tumour. If these deaths and the individual that vanished on the first night are removed from the analysis the results indicate an 80{%} survival rate one month after translocation. If all early deaths by predation and drowning are attributed to the unfamiliarity of the translocated hedgehogs with the terrain, the survival rate is 67{%} one month after translocation. The data also indicate that there is an advantage for females to weigh at least 550 g on release. Although conclusions should be drawn with care due to the limited sample size, study period and research approach our study suggests that concerns over the welfare of translocated hedgehogs are not well-founded, thus questioning the principal objection to such an undertaking.

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