A new survey is under way of Ireland's hedgehogs. It's being led by researchers at NUI Galway and the National Biodiversity Data Centre, but you can take part too. pic.twitter.com/gYDxT1ve1D
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 2, 2020
Irish Hedgehog Survey
The Irish Hedgehog Survey is a citizen science project by researchers in National University of Ireland, Galway with the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The aim is to build a greater understanding of hedgehog distribution and population status across Ireland.
Hedgehogs are one of the most understudied mammal species in Ireland and we have very little data on the status of the Irish hedgehog population. In the UK, there are estimated losses of up to 50% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas over the last 20 years. These losses have been largely attributed to habitat loss, changes in land management and urbanisation. However, we do not know if Irish hedgehog numbers are experiencing similar declines in Ireland that we are seeing in Britain and in other European countries.
Hedgehogs on your farm
Hedgehogs like areas that have plenty of diversity with mixtures in sward heights. They will use hedgerows, bushes and trees for food, shelter and as wildlife corridors. Hedgehogs can be found in both arable and grassland farms. They are insectivores, feeding on worms, beetles, snails and other invertebrates.
Hedgerows with wide bases are important for hedgehogs as it will supply them with plenty of invertebrates to feed on. Old hedges with dense root systems and lots of deciduous leaves are ideal for them to use as nesting sites, both during the summer and in winter for hibernation.
As part of the festival of farmland biodiversity, we are asking for photos of hedgerows in order to build a gallery of hedgerows around Ireland to show their characteristics, head over to celebrating farmland biodiversity.
Ways to get involved
Researchers at NUI Galway are asking farmers all around Ireland to take part in a short, questionnaire survey to report the hedgehog status of your farm. It is a short, simple survey and the results will be very helpful in mapping the distribution on hedgehogs in the Irish countryside.
As well as the farmer questionnaire, the Irish hedgehog survey is encouraging the general public to record their hedgehog sightings (alive or dead) using Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal
The Irish Hedgehog Survey is also looking to receive any hedgehog corpses. If you find a dead hedgehog, for example, a roadkill animal, please collect the specimen, place in a plastic bag (double bag if necessary), labelled with the date and location, and contact NUI Galway (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange a collection. If possible, please chill or freeze the specimen until collection.
In addition to collecting casual hedgehog sightings, the Irish Hedgehog Survey is seeking volunteers to participate in a more focused survey using footprint tunnels or camera traps to survey for hedgehogs in the garden. No specialist training is required and a simple footprint tunnel can be made at home. The survey will run between the start of June and the end of September.
Go to the Irish Hedgehog Survey website
The Irish Hedgehog Survey has produced two leaflets with top tips on making your land more hedgehog friendly. Hedgehogs need food, a place to nest, hide from predators and find mates. No one habitat can provide all these needs for hedgehogs and a variety of habitats are needed.
These leaflets are available in English and as Gaeilge.
Hedgehogs use variety of places to nest including under hedges. Hedgerows that have wide bases should provide a place for hedgehogs to nest and to feed on insects. If you have a wide-based species rich hedgerow, send us a photo at email@example.com
If you have any questions on the Irish Hedgehog Survey, please email firstname.lastname@example.org