A hedgehog survey in Regent's Park has revealed the nocturnal lives of one of Britain's best-loved small mammals, the British hedgehog. With hedgehog numbers declining nationwide, Regent's Park is the only central London park to have retained a resident hedgehog population.
A total of 45 individual hedgehogs were found during the survey indicating a significant population in a park of this size - 1.6 km2 (160ha). Some of the animals were seen to cover an area of up to 30,000 m2 (3ha) in a single night and their preferred park habitat appeared to be rough grassland and shrubby areas.
Far from ambling slowly, hedgehogs are actually quite athletic travelling up to 1.5km, nearly one mile, per night according to the survey's initial findings. In the scale of a hedgehog's body size and average leg length (10 cm), that's the human equivalent of a man with a 32-inch inside leg walking 12 km (7.5 miles) every day and more than 50 miles a week. Alternatively, 1.5 km is three stops on the Underground between Regent's Park and The Angel, Islington!
More than 60 volunteers, aged from 20 to 65 years old, known as 'Hedgehog Heroes' helped undertake this unique hedgehog survey in Regent's Park. Led by eminent wildlife biologists Dr Nigel Reeve and Professor John Gurnell, the research has been made possible by a unique partnership between The Royal Parks Foundation, The Royal Parks and The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – with thanks to a generous private gift to the Royal Parks Foundation.
Professor John Gurnell from Queen Mary, University of London will present final research findings from the survey in Spring 2015. One of the key actions will be to develop habitat recommendations to help conserve the hedgehog population in Regent's Park and inform other parks and urban open spaces around the country.
UPDATE: The Spring 2015 survey has been completed. Visit the Royal Parks Foundation website for information on the scientific study and research methods.
Find out how you can support the hedgehogs
Although the findings of the research are positive, the hedgehog population that we've discovered remains an isolated and extremely vulnerable one, which needs protecting. There are lots of ways you can help support the hedgehogs in Regent's Park.