As part of our Biodiversity ethos, Portrun Development Association are committed to protecting and promoting the natural flora and fauna of the surrounding area. One local resident that has been spotted by a lucky few people in Portrunny in recent times is Erinaceus europaeus, more commonly known as the European Hedgehog. In decline in many countries, the hedgehog is now a protected species. Normally nocturnal, these spiky creatures tend to spend the daylight hours resting in temporary nests made in areas covered in vegetation before venturing out under cover of darkness to feed on small vertebrates. Like many of their fellow creatures of the night, they do not require good eyesight, but their sense of smell is extremely good, and this is how they locate their food. Occasionally they can be seen during the day, often after heavy rainfall when their food is in abundance.
The hedgehog is one of the very few species of mammal in Ireland that practises true hibernation, going to sleep in mid-autumn time and remaining dormant until March or April. In contrast to their temporary day-nests, their hibernation nest or hibernacula is usually a more robust structure with a tunnel leading to a larger chamber which is lined with dead leaves and other vegetation. These can be found in hedgerows, under sheds or even in large piles of vegetation like bonfire piles.
Portrun Development Association have introduced an initiative in the local area which provides suitable sites for these hibernation nests. The structures are made from wood, in the style of the traditional hibernacula with the tunnel and larger chamber for the nest. These are placed in strategic sites around the local area, away from public roads and areas likely to flood to provide our local hedgehogs with somewhere safe to sleep the winter months away.
This biodiversity initiative which is funded through Roscommon County Councils Local Agenda 21: - Environment Partnership Fund is aimed not only at contributing to the conservation of this spiky mammal, but also at educating people about the hedgehog, and how we can all contribute to providing a safe environment for them. Our boxes will be located in secluded areas which are surrounded by vegetation providing protection from predators and accidental human disturbance. There will be no use of chemical herbicides in the surrounding areas which can cause harm to the hedgehog if ingested.
If you come across one of our hedgehog boxes, please admire it from a distance, but do not approach it. Remember that it may contain a sleeping hedgehog which if disturbed may not successfully complete its hibernation.