GPS monitoring of hedgehogs in winter to help extinction efforts

GPS tracking of hedgehogs living in the Alps in winter shows that they are not looking for heat elsewhere, but digging in and hibernating.

Otago University zoologist Nick Foster said hedgehogs can be found on mountains up to 2,000 meters high in summer.

Foster said hedgehogs are known to hibernate in Europe, where a harsh winter is inevitable – but in New Zealand, a warmer climate can only be 200 meters away.

He wanted to know if they’d moved lower because of the impending winter.

When investigating GPS trackers following the Covid-19 lockdowns last year, he found that they had not moved from where he originally found them.

“When I got back into the field it was a bit of a surprise that all of my hedgehogs were exactly where I left them. I suspected that some of them might take advantage of the relatively milder conditions nearby.”

Foster said hedgehogs are pests, especially around braided rivers and arid areas, and research should help eradicate them.


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