Thank you for joining us last week to learn about habitats! You can find all the resources and activities related to that topic here
Welcome to Adaptations week! Adaptations are the features species have that make it possible for them to survive in their habitat and environment. Can you think some adaptations we have that make us different from other species?
One of Alderney's most famous residents is the blonde hedgehog. These are exactly the same as the regular type but because we are a small island the populations have become inbred, causing the genetic difference that makes them blonde.
Hedgehogs feed by foraging - meaning they will eat things they find on their travels in the night. They eat mostly insects such as worms, centipedes and beetles - not really snails and slugs as is commonly believed! To help them find these insects, hedgehogs have adapted a brilliant sense of smell, they can sniff out their food under 3 inches of soil and can travel up to 5km in a night. They then use their sharp claws to dig through the soil to get at their meal. They like grassy areas best to do their foraging, which is why they are often see out on people's lawns and flowerbeds at night - here we find them on the golf course.
To help protect them from predators hedgehogs have their spines, so when they roll into a ball they are safe. On Alderney the hedgehogs don't have any predators because we have no foxes or badgers which would be the main animals to try and eat one. Here the hedgehogs become the predator as they will take a seabird egg from burrows - this is part of the reason (along with rats) we have no puffins on mainland Alderney now.
Because hedgehogs sleep during the day, they often make ‘nests’ in overgrown areas that they can sleep in at night. They don’t have homes they stay in all the time, so sometimes a hedgehog will stay in a nest another hedgehog has made instead of making a new one. In winter hedgehogs hibernate in better, warmer nests than the ones they use to rest in during the day and they have lots of special adaptations that make hibernation possible. These include being able to drop their metabolism and heart rate very low so they use less energy. Can you think of another adaptation hedgehogs might need to be able to hibernate?
Hedgehogs get their name because they like to travel along hedgerows and will often hibernate there. Unfortunately as more people replace their garden hedges with fences or walls the hedgehog habitat becomes more fragmented and it is hard for them to forage. You can help hedgehogs where you live by taking a brick out at the bottom of your wall or cutting a very small hole in a fence so they can pass through from garden to garden.