Hedgehogs have not hibernated this winter because of unprecedented mild weather caused by climate change, says expert
Wildlife rescue centre has found an abundance of hedgehogs not hibernating
UK could see major change in how hedgehogs exist, the centre’s founder warns Climate change has been blamed for the disruption to the natural ecosystem
Hedgehogs have not hibernated this winter because of unprecedented mild weather caused by climate change, according to an animal rescue service.
Wildlife Rescue Ambulance Service (WRAS) in East Sussex usually cares for up to 300 young hedgehogs during the winter.
But because of milder temperatures this season, the service has been able to release any hedgehogs that it has taken in back into the wild.
The founder of the animal rescue centre believes a warming climate is to blame for the change in hog behaviour and the creatures staying active throughout the winter.
The centre also warns that hedgehogs that should be hibernating could be poisoned by parasites carried by bugs that thrive in mild weather.
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Hedgehogs usually hibernate from October or November through to March or April, although during mild winters hedgehogs can remain active well into November and December
‘Until we get to the spring it’s difficult to know what’s going to happen,’ said Trevor Weeks, founder of WRAS, which cares for a range of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife, including mammals, birds and reptiles.
‘We are in uncharted territory – I have not known weather like it.’
‘October, November and December were busy for baby hedgehogs. Amazingly, we have managed to continue getting them out in the wild.’
WRAS is now concerned about what the hedgehogs are eating out in the wild during the winter.
As hedgehogs are usually hibernating during the colder months they are exposed to potentially unusual food sources that they wouldn’t normally eat, including parasites insects that would have reproduced throughout the mild winter.
‘If it’s not good quality food it will be bugs, beetles and insects with high parasite burdens because we haven’t had the cold weather to get rid of them,’ Weeks said.
The black pimply earth toad woke up from hibernation. Toads also hibernate throughout the winter, in mud at the bottom of lakes, concealed in logs or tucked under leaf litter