Hi, my name is Caolan, I am a Zoology student at Queens University Belfast. Upon completion of my second year, I decided to gain workplace experience. I live close to Armoy so my first point of contact when searching for a placement was CCGHT. My placement with CCGHT will run for a year, finishing in June 2019.

While with CCGHT I will focus on a project titled ‘Helping Hedgehogs by improving habitats’. Little data is held on hedgehogs but recent articles have indicated that Britain and Ireland’s most loved garden mammal is in trouble, with estimates suggesting only one million remain in the UK. In fact some reports note hedgehogs could soon be added to a UK endangered species list.

My project aims to estimate hedgehog populations within the Antrim Coast and Glens, Causeway Coast and Binevenagh Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and wider CCGHT area. The first step of the project will be to review existing data sets such as CEDaR records and relevant literature as well as contacting individuals and partnership organisations such as RSPB and Ulster Wildlife.

To start tracking local hedgehog residents I have constructed footprint tunnels. These simple tunnels attract hedgehogs using hedgehog friendly food while non-toxic ink on the base means visitors footprints are tracked. Tunnels will be offered to CCGHT’s Board and group members over summer 2018. During autumn I will work with schools, residents and community groups to track hedgehogs and promote habitat improvement. In spring 2019 I will resume hedgehog surveys trying to spot and help hogs as they emerge from hibernation.

Data collected from the tunnels will inform decision making on where hedgehog homes will be located. These provide a safe place for hibernation and raising their young. By working with schools and community groups I hope to raise awareness of how to help our local hedgehogs and how small changes can make a big difference to a hog’s chances of survival.

During my time with CCGHT I aim to submit over 400 sightings CEDaR. These records will provide a better understanding of wildlife in the AONB and CCGHT area. I am happy to submit records on behalf of others or guide you through the process.

If you would like to find out more about my project or how you can get involved, contact me by email on research@ccght.org

I will be updating on hedgehog sightings and my project throughout the year so make sure to check out CCGHT’s social media and website.

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