Hedgehog Update by Vince Lea

W/c Monday 29th April
We have five children from Barton school who take it in turns to get their parents to help feeding and watering the hedgehogs during the week, I looked after them over the weekend. By Friday all 6 had moved into one run, sharing the two nest boxes and getting quite smelly!

At the weekend, I dug little tunnels between the three runs, so they are all connected up but there is still no escape to the wider Barton environment. The hedgehogs have now spread themselves out across the 3 runs, and yesterday five of the nest boxes were occupied so I think they were not congregated together purely out of friendliness – it may be that the interconnections were easier to climb in one direction but effectively they couldn’t get back the other way and it was acting like a lobster pot.

Monday 6th May
I spent Sunday evening wiring off the nearby pond with its vertical sides, so the area should be safer for release day. I finished at dusk and watched 3 of the hedgehogs emerging. Number 40 (a female) was first out and went for water, then food then a rest. The other two came out after it was too dark to read the numbers but one was hesitating in the entrance until suddenly nudged out into the open by the one behind!

I will open the runs up to allow the hedgehogs to go free-range on Thursday 9th May. Wish them luck!

Thursday 9th May
I have opened the runs up to allow the hedgehogs to go free-range today.

There was a road kill on the A603 close to Birds Farm last night – not one of the tagged ones though. So sadly there’s definitely room for another hedgehog in the village.

Wednesday 15th May
I checked the nest boxes yesterday, all empty. Food is not being taken in any noticeable quantities. Hopefully the wet weather means there are plenty of earthworms and other natural food for them, and they have found their own places to live.

I haven’t heard of any sightings nor seen any casualties on the roads, so fingers crossed all is well. The release date is not the end of the project, however. We will continue to provide shelter, food and water in the release pens, so they can come back if they can’t find what they need for themselves in the early days. And each animal has a unique numbered blue tag on its back, so if we get any sightings it will be possible to study how well the release has worked. Information will be provided to the local people to let them know about the project and keep an eye out for hedgehogs.

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