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Harmful hedgehogs



Though seemingly harmless at a glance, hedgehogs pose a serious threat to the native New Zealand ecosystem. They were introduced in the 1870s by the British as a small reminder of home, with now dire consequences for the original wildlife inhabitants of Aotearoa. Today, they remain an intricate challenge to address due to their unrestricted and therefore abundant populations as well as their public appearance as a lovable, snuffling character of Beatrix Potter famous books.  

 

They have a large diet and can be found in a wide variety of environments. They’ll eat anything from lizards and frogs, to insects, eggs, and chicks. They feast on the native giant centipede, weta and snails. One of the world’s rarest birds, the critically endangered Kakī (Himantopus novaezelandiae) may be most at risk to hedgehog predation. These beautiful and endemic birds only nest in the braided rivers of the South Island— a prime habitat encroached upon by invasive hedgehogs.

 

Within the Kaipātiki region, ground nesting populations are taking a big hit as banded rails, spotless crakes, and even banded dotterel are at risk. Hedgehogs will invade the easy-access nests and feast on the eggs and chicks. 

 

Trapping is the only means of reducing and ideally eliminating this destructive and invasive pest from the delicate ecosystems of New Zealand. Ground-set traps are commonly effective, specifically those placed along fences and buildings.  

 

At Pest Free Kaipātiki, we offer DOC 200s to the public in the hope of mitigating the impacts of these pests. In the North Island, traps can be used year-round. Hedgehogs in colder, more southern regions, however, undergo hibernation from April to September so trapping during the warmer months is most effective in these environments.  

 

Action needs to be taken now in order to prevent the complete extinction of remarkable birds such as the kakī and prevent further destruction caused by these invasive hedgehogs. It only takes one night of foraging for these creatures to have a devastating effect on ground nesting native birds, or the stunning geckos and skinks you might encounter in the bush.

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