Sunday, 30 August 2009
Friday, 28 August 2009
New scientific research aided by the RSPCA has for the first time found that rat and mice poison may be having an effect on the welfare of hedgehogs.
The new study shows that anticoagulants, which are a group of chemicals used to kill rodents by preventing the blood from clotting, have shown up in significant levels in the hedgehogs studied. This could have an impact on their survival, breeding success or mobility.
RSPCA’s Wildlife Scientific Officer Sophie Adwick said “All four of the RSPCA’s Wildlife Centres, along with other establishments, supplied scientists at the University of Bristol with the carcasses of 120 hedgehogs that had died or were put to sleep due to illness or injury. The findings of this study are a great surprise and may have a significant impact on how these poisons are used in the future, so I’m pleased that our RSPCA Centres were able to contribute to this important study.”
Dr Claire Dowding, from the University of Bristol, who carried out the research said “the number of hedgehogs affected is quite worrying. It’s difficult to tell exactly how these animals are exposed to the chemicals. They may be eating them directly, scavenging on dead rodents that have been killed by the poison or eating their favourite diet of slugs and snails that have fed on the poison bait. Slugs and snails are not affected by anticoagulants because their blood is different, but they will retain poisonous residues.”
Out of the 120 hedgehogs sampled, 80 of them had been exposed to these poisons, Claire said “this high figure really is of concern and might be one of the reasons why the British hedgehog population is thought to be declining”.
Sophie added “The findings of this study mean that we must ensure these poisons are used with even greater care. Because they are widely available and the most common form of rodent control, we would urge people to bear in mind the wider problems these are now thought to cause, and use them responsibly.”
Hundreds of hedgehogs are admitted to RSPCA Wildlife Centres every year, usually because youngsters born late in the season will not have had enough time to build up sufficient fat reserves to survive hibernation. Once their weight has been increased they are released back into the wild. Sadly some are too ill to rescue or have suffered some sort of injury, only in these cases are the animals are put to sleep.
Information regarding the rescue and rehabilitation work that RSPCA Wildlife Centres carry out can be found online at www.rspca.org.uk/wildlife where you can also listen to the monthly wildlife podcast.
Thursday, 27 August 2009
The laptop is working again which means more Hog videos! For tonight's videos I set up the camera facing the shrub from where the little hog has been appearing for the last couple of weeks.
Except, this footage reveals two small-ish hedgehogs. The one in the clips following the first fade out has markings on its back and a bit of an itch. This little hog is a frequent visitor who I call Scratchy!
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Elsa has been out in the garden after dark again. I think she enjoys watching the hedgehogs as much as I do. Trouble is, she tends to follow them, and I don't think the hogs know what to make of her. The hog in the above photos was hiding by the courgettes. (And I wish I'd seen those slugs at the time!)
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Monday, 24 August 2009
This isn't the first time I have found a hedgehog motionless in the feeding station, but at least last time the hog seemed to be awake.
I confess that I am concerned and not sure what to do. I'm thinking perhaps I should put something into the box to make it warmer for the hog. I'll wait up a little while longer and keep an eye on it. Fingers crossed that it's going to be OK.
UPDATE: I just checked again, approximately 10 minutes later, and the hedgehog is now awake and eating. I shall check again a little later.
Has anyone else out there ever experienced anything like this?
UPDATE #2: 00:08am - OK... good news. The hedgehog has left the feeding station, which implies that it is feeling alright now. Hopefully it'll find somewhere warmer next time it fancies a sleep.
I leave you tonight with the following news item from The Telegraph:
The funniest joke at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been picked by a panel of critics.I can only comment that if that was the funniest joke, I'm glad I missed the rest of it.
"Hedgehogs. Why can't they just share the hedge?" won the accolade for London comic Dan Antopolski, 36, who is known for his surreal stand up routines.
Nine comedy critics sifted through more than 3,600 minutes of material to find the winner of the Dave Award for the Funniest Joke of the Fringe.
They each had a pool of around 7,200 different jokes to choose from, based on estimates of the average comedian telling two jokes per minute, organisers said.
Shortlisted jokes were put up for the public vote, with more than 3,000 comedy fans choosing the funniest.
With nearly 18 per cent of votes, Antopolski took top spot and walked away with a trophy from TV channel Dave and a £1,000 cash prize.
The joke was taken from the Perrier Award-nominee's show Silent But Deadly.
Sunday, 23 August 2009
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Each evening when I nip out into the garden to check on the hedgehogs' food supplies I will often take a torch and go on a slug patrol. Those blasted things seem to love munching on my sunflowers, and you'll notice some leaf damage in the photo above.
Yes, hedgehogs are supposed to eat slugs, but it seems that slug-eating is a last resort. They far prefer other foodstuffs, such as those that I have been providing in the garden for over a year now, e.g. mealworms, unsalted peanuts, sunflower hearts, sultanas, and Spike's Dinner brand hedgehog food or Iams cat food (chicken flavour). You might say, "stop providing food and the hedgehogs will eat the slugs", but I fear that they might not visit the garden at all if I didn't put food and water out for them. I am trying to encourage the hedgehogs, after all they are now classified as an endangered species.
As to slug repellents, I have tried barriers of gel (too easily washed away), gravel, broken eggshells, etc. It seems that a determined slug will always find a way. The one thing I must stress, however, is that one should NEVER use slug pellets. If a hedgehog eats a slug poisoned by slug pellets, then the hedgehog will be poisoned in turn.
Yes, slugs are a nuisance but it you use slug pellets in an effort to control them you could be assisting in the decline of that truly unique and delightful wild animal, the hedgehog.
Friday, 21 August 2009
This hog turned up shortly before 9.00pm which is the earliest hog visitor to the garden that I have noted in a very long time. I fancy I detected some faint paint marks on her (his?) back, so possibly this is the same "painted hog" that I first blogged about in June.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
A hog made a noisy entrance, emerging from a shrub and Elsa seemed very interested and followed it from the shrub to the feeding station. My worry was that she might pounce, but she was well-behaved. (Despite being told she is a killer, so far the only thing I've seen her kill is a cabbage white butterfly which she caught and ate yesterday.)
Above: Elsa watches the hedgehogs.
After about 15 minutes I decided we should leave the hedgehogs in peace and I scooped Elsa up and took her indoors.
Monday, 17 August 2009
The hedgehogs themselves seem quite adaptable and seem to like this arrangement. I couldn't say if they actually prefer it this way, but they seem to make a lot less mess. However, one drawback is that for videoing purposes the grass itself is highly reflective to the infrared light source, so for the next hedgehog videos I will move the feeding station back onto the patio as previously.
On the subject of hedgehog videos, I've not made any recently because my laptop is being repaired following a disk failure, and the software I have on my desktop computer quite frankly isn't up to the job of editing the videos. Hopefully by this time next week I'll have the laptop back and will be able to resume the hedgehog videos. I actually captured some lovely footage last week but wasn't able to do anything with it. It's most frustrating.
By the way, I wouldn't recommend using a feeding station like this with the grass as the floor if you have foxes visiting. They are probably cunning enough to put their nose under the side and flip it over.
Sunday, 16 August 2009
Monday, 10 August 2009
I thought I'd try putting the camera in a different position last night, just for a change. As you can see, we get a lot of infrared glare off the grass, so I think I'm going to return it to the patio again for future hedgehog movies.
This footage is unedited straight from the camera, seeing as my laptop is away being fixed at the moment. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Sunday, 9 August 2009
Friday, 7 August 2009
Thursday, 6 August 2009
OK, I admit it, I've speeded that footage up!
For the traditionalists, here's the same footage in real time:
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Here are some more hedgehogs in my garden including one little fellow who's got a bit of an itch! To get the best picture from my infrared camera I have laid down two rubber car mats which prevent infrared glare from the paving slabs, and I have also used the low-tech method of taping over some of the infrared LEDs on the camera itself so as to reduce glare in the centre of the picture - which is often on the hogs themselves.
It might be a low-tech solution but it seems to work!
Monday, 3 August 2009
Saturday, 1 August 2009
The hogs must have been hungry tonight because three of them showed up shortly after 9:30pm. If a hog shows up at 10pm then it's early; they often don't make an appearance until much later.
It might not be clear in the above photos, but there are two hedgehogs inside the feeding station. I also fancy that the one outside on the mat has paint marks on its back. Could it be the same one from a few weeks back?
Please excuse the quality of these pictures - they were taken through the glass of the back door and there is a bit of fogginess caused by flash reflection. I have to be careful about opening the back door at the moment because I have a new cat and don't want her dashing out just yet. She was looking at the hedgehogs a couple of days ago and didn't seem that interested (thankfully!).