4 things you might not know about hedgehogs
The critter has a pretty significant impact in New Zealand.
Words: Nadene Hall
1. NZ has a LOT of hedgehogs
While their numbers are declining in their UK homeland, it’s believed NZ has one of the world’s largest hedgehog populations. In many parts of the country, it’s estimated there are 2-4 hedgehogs per hectare; in some areas there may be as many as eight.
2. Hedgehogs love to eat poultry
Hedgehogs target eggs of native birds and domestic poultry, and chicks up to around 2 weeks old. It’s rare for them to attack adult birds, but it can happen – hens incubating eggs are at particular risk. One tactic is to grab a bird’s leg in its teeth and drag it away, holding onto it until it dies of shock.
3. Hedgehogs are excellent swimmers and climbers
In a single night, a hedgehog can swim over 800m in search of food. And don’t be fooled by their round bodies and short legs: they’re very good at climbing hedges and walls.
4. Hedgehogs are deadly to native insects & lizards
Hedgehogs have voracious appetites, especially females in the breeding season (up to 3x that of a male), and their targets include a lot of native wildlife.
HOW TO TARGET HEDGEHOGS
The best control option is a trap such as the DOC 150 or 200. It needs to be in a tunnel so pets can’t access it, and set with bait such as a fishy cat food or fresh rabbit or chicken. The best times of year are early autumn and late winter.