Hedgehogs can be found throughout Somerset and are easy to identify, being Britain’s only spiny mammal. However, they are not always easy to find. Often keeping close to edges with dense cover such as hedgerows, hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal and are mostly likely to be spotted while out foraging in summer months at dusk and throughout the night.
Hedgehogs are mainly carnivorous, and forage on invertebrates such as beetles, earthworms, caterpillars and slugs. In the autumn they may be tempted by fallen soft fruits, such as plums in gardens. Hedgehogs often have several nests within their territories, which can range from 10ha to 20ha. Nests are often lodged under logs, sheds or thickets for protection.
Hedgehogs generally have 1 or 2 litters each year between June and September. Young are born blind and with white spines, which turn brown over time. They are weaned and leave the nest within 4-6weeks. Hedgehogs hibernate between November and March, meaning putting on weight before winter is crucial for young hedgehogs.
Hedgehog populations are estimated to have declined by 50% since the 1990s due primarily to habitat loss and fragmentation, road accidents and increased predation by badgers.