The hedgehog is regularly voted Britain's favourite mammal, and yet we know surprisingly little about the life of this spiny mammal. Pat Morris provides an all-encompassing new study of the hedgehog and its habitat, shedding new light on conservation efforts crucial to the survival of this charming creature of our countryside.
In recent years the hedgehog has ousted the badger, dolphin and red squirrel from heading the list of the most popular British animals. It is now regularly voted Britain's favourite, and yet we know surprisingly little about the life of this, our only spiny mammal. Much of what we think we know is based on only a small number of studies, but with the hedgehog gaining in public prominence, support from key charities has enabled a significant enhancement in research activity that continues to illuminate the life of this very special prickly animal.
Hedgehogs have had a long association with humans, extending back to Ancient Egypt and beyond. Strong public support makes it an ideal flagship species for encouraging public acceptance of nature conservation principles, particularly in the urban environment. In a worrying development, after surviving for millions of years and outlasting mammoths and sabre-toothed cats, the hedgehog population now appears to be in serious decline. In our modern world, its plight appears to be worsening, due to the loss and fragmentation of habitats in Britain's towns and countryside. The insidious effects of pesticides and the intensification of farming result in habitats that offer little support in the way of suitable foraging or nesting sites. There are also many deaths on the roads.
In this timely addition to the New Naturalist Library, Pat Morris provides the first fully comprehensive overview of the hedgehog's life, including hibernation, behaviour and numbers, also its relationship with people from being a statutory pest to become a protected and cherished friend. Ideas are offered for conservation efforts and public participation crucial to the survival of this iconic creature.