The endemic fauna of New Zealand evolved in the absence of mammalian predators and their introduction has been devastating. Large-scale aerial applications of cereal baits containing sodium fluoroacetate (1080) are routinely used to control these pests. During one such operation in the Blue Mountains, West Otago, trail cameras were used to monitor the impact of the application on mammalian predators.
The feeding behaviour of four adult caged hedgehogs was studied for a period of 22 weeks. The maximum feeding activity of all four animals occurred between 1900 and 2200 hours, and two of them showed a second, but minor, peak of activity about 0300 hours. Individual feeds were of short duration with the first feed each evening tending to exceed the mean. Variations in behaviour between individuals were considered to be a function of their differing body weights, or to be related to the size of the sample.
European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) have recently been identified as a conservation threat in New Zealand. Hedgehogs were kill-trapped at 14 wetland and braided riverbed sites in the upper Waitaki Basin between late October 1997 and early February 1998 and their gut contents described. The most commonly eaten prey were Coleoptera (present in 81% of 192 guts), Lepidoptera (52%; n = 192), Dermaptera (49%; n = 192), Hymenoptera (42%; n = 192) and Orthoptera (31%; n = 319).
Investigations of nest predation are often limited by the researchers’ inability to identify nest predators accurately. I tested a chemical bait marker, Rhodamine B (RB), as an indicator of egg predation at artificial ground nests. In a pen trial, the presence of characteristic fluorescent bands in one or more facial vibrissae from all treatment animals confirmed the suitability of RB as a bait marker in the introduced European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus).