Following on from the results gained from our first year of running the Hedgehog Watch survey during National Mammal Week, we are conducting a project investigating how artificial lighting affects hedgehogs in gardens, appropriately named, the Hedgehog and Lighting Project!
Our Hedgehog Watch Survey confirmed the commitment and passion of many members of the UK public to feeding hedgehogs in their gardens. Gardens, like the wider landscape, are increasingly lit at night. We know that lighting affects the behaviour of many nocturnal animals, including bats and rodents, and also that of flying invertebrates such as moths. However, we do not know whether artificial night lighting is also affecting hedgehogs, either directly or through impacts on their natural food items. Hedgehogs are becoming an increasingly sub-urban species and so this research is becoming increasingly essential to determine how our living habits are affecting those of Britain’s favourite mammal.
To do this, we have asked citizens scientists whose gardens, hedgehogs and garden lighting fulfil the requirements of the project to film their feeding hedgehogs in light and dark conditions using camera traps. We hope to find out whether the presence or absence of light influences hedgehog feeding behaviour.
Our participants will be spending 2 weeks filming hedgehogs feeding in their gardens, spending one week filming their feeding under “dark” conditions with no artificial lighting, and a second week filming them under “light” conditions, with a bright, constant artificial light illuminating the feeder. They will also be completing invertebrate surveys to see if hedgehog prey species are also affected by the lighting.
Keep watching this space and our social media channels for news of how the project is progressing!