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Title: Feeding ecology of the European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus.
Author: Wroot, Andrew Jeremy.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3573 2533
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1984
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The objective of this study was to examine ecological and behavioural aspects of feeding in the European hedgehog (Erinace~~ eus~aeuB L.) and to attempt to relate these to the accumulation and use of energy. The availability of the invertebrate prey of hedgehogs is shown to vary on a seasonal basis, and to depend also on the weather, habitat, and species of prey animal. For some prey, notably the carabid beetles and earthworms, this variability appears to be relatively predictable. Observations of hedgehog behaviour revealed that animals spent about 80% of their active time foraging regardless of sex. Males spent a greater proportion of their foraging time in neighbouring gardens than did females and also tended to move faster while foraging. Both sexes moved faster in the less dense habitats. Foraging behaviour frequently appeared to exhibit a bimodal pattern, decreasing somewhat during the middle hours of the night and picking up again later on. A study of hedgehog diets revealed that although a wide variety of invertebrates were consumed, the bulk of energy was provided by only four prey types (carabid beetles, earthworms, Lepidoptera larvae, and tipulid larvae). Within these four types, hedgehogs showed a clear tendency to concentrate on only one type at a time and to switch from one group to another on a seasonal basis. Preference indices (which relate diet and availability) suggested that these four prey types plus the gastropods and dermapterans were the preferred prey. There was an implication that the proportion of a given prey type in the diet may have been loosely related to the Length of time spent foraging in a particular habitat. A respirometry technique was used to make estimates of hedgehog energetic requirements. Relationships between resting metabolic rate and body weight and ambient temperature agreed welt with figures reported elsewhere but metabolic rates of' active animals conformed Less well to published data. However, a strong predictive relationship was found between estimates of daily metabolic requirement and body weight, ambient temperature, and the length of time that the hedgehog was active (as opposed to resting). This suggested that an average (600 g) hedgehog would require between 90 and 150 Kcal/day. Estimates of metabolic requirements during hibernation, suggest that hedgehogs lose 0.2% of their original body weight for each day that they spend in hibernation [between 0.8 - 2.0 g/day).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Zoology