The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.
Range & Status
The Hedgehog is widespread in western Europe and northern Russia. Introduced to New Zealand in the late 19th century where it is now very abundant. In other parts of Europe it is replaced by the Eastern Hedgehog, to the south-east, and overlaps with the Algerian Hedgehog in Spain and southern France (Macdonald & Barrett, 1993). In Great Britain and Ireland, it is native and locally common, being found throughout the mainland, in suitable habitats, and has been introduced to at least 48 British islands, mainly off the coast of Scotland but also Anglesey, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight and some of the Channel Islands. Hedgehog has also been introduced to St. Mary' s on the Isles of Scilly, where their feeding habits threaten the rare beetle fauna. Generally absent from upland areas above the tree-line, particularly in Scotland; also scarce or absent from wetland areas, large arable fields and coniferous forests (Harris et al ., 1995; Harris & Yalden, 2008). A pre-breeding population estimate (of low reliability) gives an approximate figure of 1,555,000 for Britain, probably with a static or declining population in the 1980s (Harris et al ., 1995). Considered to be threatened in Europe (Whilde, 1993).
Recorded throughout most of Cornwall where suitable habitat exists, with a notable concentration of records in west Cornwall; in the Truro, Falmouth, Camborne and Redruth areas, which mirrors the distribution map for Badger Meles meles . Well recorded in southeast Cornwall and along the route of the A30. Hedgehog was introduced to St. Mary' s (Isles of Scilly) in the early 1980s (Harris et al ., 1995; Harris & Yalden, 2008; Parslow, 2007).
Habitat & Ecology
Most abundant in lowland areas where grassland and woodland/hedgerow or scrub are in close proximity, especially at woodland edges, hedgerows in meadowland, and scrub in sand dunes. Nest site availability and suitable nest materials are probably a distribution limiting factor (Corbet & Harris, 1996). However, much farmland has become less suitable during the last 50 years due to modern agricultural practices. Food consists mainly of ground-living invertebrates, also bird eggs, chicks and carrion (Corbet & Harris, 1996; Harris & Yalden, 2008).
Predation from Badger may be a threat, but the effect on populations in Cornwall is unclear; the main areas with Hedgehog at their densest correspond with similarly dense Badger presence (probably due to similar habitat preferences for both species). Other threats include road accident mortality and climatic change (e.g. hot dry summers with fewer earthworms and other invertebrates). Habitat changes probably constitute a real threat, e.g. loss of grassland (especially rough pasture which is rich in macro-invertebrates) to arable farmland and hedgerow removal (which reduces nest site habitat). Pesticide use (particularly the use of molluscicides) is a threat as it impacts on the food chain but could also cause direct poisoning (Harris et al ., 1995).
As a practical conservation measure, Morris (1993) recommends wider dissemination of practical information about the needs of Hedgehogs and details about threats to their survival. More information is required on distribution patterns within Cornwall. Listed under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (animals which can not be killed or taken by certain methods) and listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995). Hedgehog is a new national BAP species from 2008, and is included in the Biodiversity Action Plan list for Cornwall.
I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.
The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.