Monday, 11 December 2017

Hedgehogs Vs Mice

We used information from the Department of Conservation (DOC) to compare and contrast the hedgehog and the mouse.

Animal pests such as possums, rats and stoats are well known for eating the eggs and young of our native birds and destroying plants and trees. However these are not the only introduced pests that threaten the survival of our native plants and animals. Two lesser known, but equally problematic pests are the hedgehog and the mouse.
Size - Avengers
Although relatively small in stature, the hedgehog and the mouse can still cause big problems for New Zealand’s flora and fauna. One of the smallest pests in New Zealand is the mouse. This small brown\grey rodent is measured 10cm long. Slightly bigger the hedgehog measures 20-30 cm long. The hedgehog is a small brown creature with sharp spines covering their bodies.
Eat Native Species - Justice League
When hedgehogs were first brought to New Zealand it was thought that they would only eat slugs and snails, but the settlers were unaware that soon this pest was going to eat native animals such as lizards, snails and invertebrates. They also eat eggs and chicks of birds especially those that nest on the ground, for example the dotterel and tern. Hedgehogs are also known to consume weta and giant centipedes. One hedgehog was found with 283 weta legs in its stomach. The mouse might be small but they have an enormous appetite eating a range of native plants and animals such as bird’s eggs, chicks, invertebrates, leaves, seeds, fruits, fish eggs and insect larvae.
Brought to New Zealand - X-Men
Historical evidence states that it was early European settlers who were responsible for introducing both the mouse and the hedgehog to New Zealand. However it is believed only the hedgehog was brought here intentionally. The hedgehog was brought to New Zealand by early settlers to make them feel more at home. People thought that the hedgehogs would eat slugs and snails from vegetable gardens but people didn’t realise that they would endanger our native environment. However the mouse was different as it was accidentally brought here with the early settlers on ships and boats.
Maori Names - Guardians of the Galaxy
The Maori have given names to both of these pests. The hedgehog in Maori is known as tuatete. The English name hedgehog comes from pigs (hogs) because of the grunting noises they make. Mice also have a Maori name which is kiore, they share this name with rats too. When mice first arrived in New Zealand, they were not known as mice but Henrietta’s. This is because they arrived on the Australian ship the Elizabeth Henrietta in 1824.  
Although both pests are known to wreak havoc on New Zealand’s flora and fauna evidence suggests it is the mouse that has the greatest negative impact in comparison to the hedgehog. The mouse far outnumbers the hedgehog, has a greater appetite (eating a wider variety of plants and animals) and can cover a wider area as they can also climb trees. When pests and predators were introduced to Aotearoa they took a serious toll on the survival of our native plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, who were ill equipped to deal with the threat. To this day animal pests continue to be a major threat. Therefore controlling these pests is essential for the survival of our special native plants and animals.

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