Of all the nocturnal mammals one can meet in the garden in the middle of the night, hedgehogs are without a doubt the most loved. But in New Zealand, these tiny, hard-to-roll thorns turned into killers, the Guardian writes.
New Zealand is a hedgehog’s paradise. While they are hunted by martins, foxes, and badgers in Europe, they do not have much predators in New Zealand. There is no right to correct their numbers in the food chain, so they happily interlock forests and gardens and eliminate an astonishing number of native creatures.
With the exception of a few native species of bats, New Zealand has no native land mammals. Bird groups have adapted to this situation – some birds, like the kiwi, do not fly or nest on the ground. When a weasel, cats, opossums and rats were brought in, they began to trigger a trigger. Crush rare species of insects, kill newly hatched chicks and eat eggs of birds that are nesting on the ground.
Hedgehogs are also the main culprits. “The amount of damage they can do is becoming more and more clear,” said Nick Foster of the University of Ottawa, who is researching hedgehogs. The lone designer hedgehog is home to a number of lizards, bird eggs and the flightless weta cricket that only lives in New Zealand. One study found 283 feet of weta (a type of horse insect) in one hedgehog’s stomach. Foster added: “This means that this hedgehog ate up to 60 individuals in a 24-hour period.” “She finished the banquet,” he added.
Weta cricket is the most common delicacy for overgrown hedgehogs.
To understand the hedgehogs’ movements, Foster picks them up and gives them a Global Positioning System (GPS). As part of this mission, he goes into the bush at night armed with thermal vision goggles used by the military. Thanks to the tracking collars he actually put on the hedgehogs, he was able to discover that they go further than most people imagine. It is found an altitude of 2000 meters on a mountain slope.
What about beloved hedgehogs?
Attempting to repel hedgehogs from New Zealand’s protected habitat is critical. The country is launching an ambitious campaign to wipe out introduced predators by 2050 using a combination of traps, hunting and poisons. Foster is working on the T Manahuna Aoraki project, which aims to rid predators of 310,000 hectares surrounded by mountains. New Zealand has already exterminated predators on many islands, but on Earth it’s more difficult.
In addition to the overall complexity, this task is also complicated by the complex promotion. Opossums, rats, rats and nestlings with their bare teeth and less satisfying looks can be accepted by the public as shameful invaders to be wiped out. But hedgehogs are cute. Foster asserts that there is a “certain psychological barrier” to the hedgehog’s extinction. Some scientists have called the problem the “Beatrix Potter Effect,” the author of a book on hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs have always had a special place in the hearts of a group of New Zealanders made up of the descendants of European immigrants and colonists. Hedgehogs were deliberately planted here to remind settlers of their home gardens. As their imports grew, people began to lose track of which the thorns were moving. They began to multiply freely, and in 1916, historians write, their population in the wild was “extremely abundant”.
There are currently no more accurate estimates of how many hedgehogs live in New Zealand, but there is a larger population than Britain. “There were proposals to bring them back to Britain by ship,” Foster said. “Hedgehogs are not doing well in Europe. There are still quite a few, but their numbers are declining.” The idea of returning a ship full of blown weeds to Britain is a nice one, and it would definitely be more digestible than a mass dump. But according to Foster, this is not a viable idea in terms of biosafety, logistics, or costs.