The Regent’s Park hedgehogs are an isolated population of around 35 individuals. They are particularly special as they are the last confirmed breeding population in central London. It is possible that they have been residents here even before the park was formed in the early 19th century, as there are no known records of any introductions.
The Royal Parks has been monitoring this special population for 6 years and have identified several hot zones which seem to change over time. A mosaic of habitats is very important for them so grassland (other than the sports pitches) is found to be particularly important as foraging habitat, whereas the scrub, planted shrubberies and hedgerows are important as nesting sites. The hedgehogs can travel up to a rather impressive 1.5 km (nearly one mile), per night, in the search of food or a mate.
These hedgehogs have a large number of supporters in the form of the “Hedgehog Heroes”, the fantastic volunteers who dedicate many late nights to surveying the prickly residents. Surveys take place in May and September over 2 nights each time, with over 200 volunteers in partnership with The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Garden Wildlife Health Project (GWH) and the Central Royal Parks Wildlife Group. They are led by two eminent wildlife scientists, Dr Nigel Reeve and Professor John Gurnell.
As well as the twice-yearly spotlighting survey, the Parks complement this work with a number of habitat improvements to help maintain the population. This includes adding log piles and bramble management to encourage it to grow thicker and denser to provide good nesting habitat. Also grass management, shrub planting, improvement of connectivity by opening gaps in the fence, hedgehog boxes, and increasing the amount of water available by introducing shallow ponds.