These prickly pioneers are part of a unique research project.

The hedgehogs have been fitted with tiny radio transmitters and released into the wilds of Sussex.

Some 32 creatures will be tagged and released by the University of Brighton in conjunction with the RSPCA.

This week the first two “guinea pigs” have been kitted up with the small device and sent into the vegetation at the back of the Huxley Building at the university’s campus in Lewes Road.

It is hoped tracking the animals will reveal new details about hedgehog survival during the winter months.

This is expected to improve the way we care for animals and help them survive.

Dr Dawn Scott from the University of Brighton, who is leading the investigation, said: “There is a national decline in hedgehog numbers.”

She said the RSPCA are often called to take in underweight hedgehogs in the autumn, which are then fattened up and released in spring.

She said: “We are looking to see if that is the best plan of action.”

The animals have had the transmitters glued onto their backs, a harmless process which will let Dr Scott and her team track their movements.

When they malt in the spring, the transmitters will fall off naturally.

The team will see how many hedgehogs have survived and then will reweigh them.

Dr Scott is a well-known ecologist and was part of Channel 4’s Foxes Live series shown earlier this year.