Research: Study reveals state of South London’s hedgehogs
20th May 2021
A recent project has used camera trapping to learn more about where hedgehogs are living in South London. London HogWatch was set up by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), in collaboration with PTES, and runs surveys throughout London. They recently decided to focus on South London, as little is known about hedgehog hotspots in the area.
Only two of the eleven South London green spaces previously surveyed by London HogWatch were found to have hedgehog populations – Barnes Common and Barnes Wetland Centre. The team, led by Dr Chris Carbone, were concerned at the small size of these sites and wanted to see if they were connected.
Kate Scott-Gatty, a PTES intern, joined London Hogwatch last year, and took on the task of discovering more about South London’s hedgehogs. She spent the summer cycling around Twickenham, Sheen and Teddington, distributing wildlife cameras to local residents.
London Hogwatch wanted to get a clearer picture of where hedgehogs lived in these areas, so decided to place cameras in new habitats and locations, such as local gardens and allotments. Kate also surveyed Beddington Park and surrounding areas.
A glimmer of hope
Out of the eleven locations surveyed, Kate found hedgehogs in eight of them, which is amazing news! She also discovered that the two small populations in Barnes are connected, and can move between habitats. Unfortunately, the population size on Barnes Common is smaller than in previous years, which could indicate population decline. She also noted that residential gardens are acting as an important refuge for hedgehogs from badgers.
Sightings in Beddington Park were relatively few compared to surrounding gardens. This shows that there could be a connectivity issue with the park and conservation efforts should be focussed there.
Overall, the outlook for South London’s hedgehogs is positive. The surveys have revealed a more healthy population than previously thought. We now have a much clearer picture of their distribution and where conservation efforts could be targeted.
The survey highlights just how important hedgehog highways are. As a result of the work, Sutton Council is creating a hedgehog action group to protect their local hedgehogs.