Morris (1988) hedgehog home range movements
Title: A study of home range and movements in the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), Journal of Zoology, London 214; 433-449. 1988
Authors: P. Morris
Background to study
An investigation into the home range, movement patterns and nest utilisation of hedgehogs occupying traditionally managed rural habitat and an examination of radio-tracking methods to provide recommended protocols for future monitoring of hedgehog movements and habitat use.
- 12 hedgehogs (9 males, 3 females) were radio-collared and tracked between 24th July and 14th August 1984 within a 54.8 ha area consisting of a mosacic of hedgerows, ditches, small copses, a series of unimproved grassland and Newtown Village.
- Location data, including daytime nest locations where possible, were obtained from 5 hedgehogs per night and included an average of six fixes, per individual, per night, with one individual being intensively tracked for a period of 2 consecutive nights and five individuals being tracked for up to 20 consecutive nights.
- The most informative data from three individuals was used for the majority of analyses which included calculating the minimum distances travelled per night, the total and accumulative range area per night and the utilisation and spatial arrangement of nest sites.
- Methods for data collection were analysed to determine the number of fixes required per individual per night (using simulated and estimated range areas from tagged individuals) and the number of nights required to estimate minimum home range size for a single activity period.
- Males travel significantly larger distances (mean = 1655m) than females (mean = 957m) per night and this distance increases with body size with larger males travelling significantly further than smaller males.
- The largest male travelled over 2km on one-third of the nights he was studies with a maximum travel distance of 3.14km.
- Ranges were considerably variable between nights, correlated with distance travelled and the area used in one nights activity overlapped with that of the previous night by between 0 and 83% with no regularity, indicating heterogeneity in habitat use within and between individuals.
- Both males and females used multiple day time nest sites (maximum eight and four for males and females respectively) which were widely spaced, potentially allowing for large ranges to be utilised. Daytime nests were used for a maximum of three consecutive days for males and six consecutive days for females.
- An optimum number of fixes per individual per night is 20 to establish about 80% of both the range area and distance travelled and data should be collected for seven consecutive days, after which ranging is likely to reach an asymptote. In practice, 10 fixes per night should suffice and enable multiple individuals to be tracked in any one survey night.
Key messages to landowners and managers derived from these results
- Surveys determining the presence of hedgehogs should be carried out across multiple nights as individuals do not utilise their whole area of activity in any one night.
- Hedgehogs within rural areas may utilise an area of up to 40 and 12 ha for males and females respectively and should be a consideration when:
- Anthropogenic alterations to the landscape may lose or fragment suitable foraging sites and populations.
- When releasing hedgehogs to ensure they have sufficient habitat available and accessible within these ranges (not fragmented by major rivers or roads).
- Radio-tracking studies of hedgehogs should be carried out over a period of seven or more days (may vary by habitat) and should aim to obtain between 10 and 20 fixes per individual per night to provide sufficient estimates of home range within a single period of activity.