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Habitat use and behaviour of European hedgehogErinaceus europaeus in a Danish rural area

Abstract

HedgehogsErinaceus europaeus Linnaeus, 1758 were radio-tagged and monitored during the summer of 2001 in a Danish rural area with the objective of quantifying home ranges, nightly distances travelled, habitat use, activity patterns, day-nesting habits, and body-weight changes of the five males and five females being recorded. Males had larger home-range sizes and travelled longer nightly distances than females. The two most common habitat types within the home ranges of the hedgehogs were deciduous forest and arable land, whereas the two most frequently used habitat types were deciduous forest and grassland. No differences between the sexes were found in the proportions of different habitat types within the home ranges or in habitat use. Non-random habitat use was found; forested areas and edge habitats seemed preferred to open areas. The most frequently used day-nesting habitat was deciduous forest. Foraging was by far the most time-consuming nightly activity for both sexes. Males lost weight during the study period (May–July), whereas females gained weight. A peak in the frequency of sexual behaviour was found from late-June to mid-July. The high level of male ranging activity and the weight loss of males are interpreted as a consequence of the promiscuous mating system of hedgehogs.

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Associate Editor was Andrzej Zalewski.

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Riber, A.B. Habitat use and behaviour of European hedgehogErinaceus europaeus in a Danish rural area. Acta Theriol 51, 363–371 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03195183

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Key words

  • body weight
  • day-nesting habits
  • home range
  • movements
  • sexual
  • behaviour