How to attract and protect hedgehogs in your garden

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Signs that show he is in the garden

The hedgehog is a shy animal that is often more noticeable by its absence than its presence, especially in our gardens. Contrary to what one might think, it is not necessary to be an expert in wildlife to detect the presence of this nocturnal animal. In fact, a few simple signs can indicate that a hedgehog is roaming around your house.

To start, keep your eyes open and observe the ground for footprints or small characteristic droppings. These clues are often the silent witnesses of a hedgehog’s recent passage. It can be an exciting activity to introduce children to ecology and teach them to respect and protect our animal friends.

It is therefore wise to pay attention when strolling in your garden at twilight or early in the morning; it is at these moments that you are most likely to spot traces of this charming spiky creature. Cultivating curiosity for the natural world enriches our understanding and appreciation of the small wonders that surround us daily.

Any doubts about hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs, these small nocturnal mammals, are known for their silent movements in our gardens. Directly observing a hedgehog can be challenging due to its elusive nature and nocturnal lifestyle. Fortunately, it is possible to detect their presence through the traces they leave during their explorations.

These biological clues are particularly advantageous in the context of a permaculture garden where environmental impact must be minimized. Unlike some less respectful visitors who may leave trash like cigarette butts or cans, the signs left by hedgehogs are entirely biodegradable.

It is essential to regularly inspect your garden if you wish to confirm the visit of these creatures. Hedgehogs are not very attached to a fixed location, so their appearances can vary and surprise the attentive gardener.

Identifying hedgehog droppings

Identifying hedgehog droppings is relatively simple thanks to their distinctive characteristics. These small black cylinders usually measure between 2 and 5 centimeters in length with an approximate diameter of 0.5 to 0.7 cm. Their texture can vary depending on what the hedgehog has consumed, but they generally have a fairly smooth surface.

A peculiarity of hedgehogs is that they do not specifically look for strategic places to deposit their droppings; they do so rather randomly on their path. It is therefore not uncommon to find these small clues on lawns or near paths in a garden. They can also be seen in less expected areas such as under hedges or sometimes even on a terrace.

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The color and shininess can also give you indications about the age of the droppings: they are shiny when fresh and become dull over time.

Meaning of hedgehog droppings

Hedgehog droppings are true sources of information for nature enthusiasts. Thanks to them, it is possible to trace the dietary habits of these small mammals. Indeed, after washing their droppings on a sieve, one can discover residues such as slugs and worms, the hedgehog’s favorite foods.

Furthermore, the size of the droppings can also inform us about certain physical traits of the hedgehog such as its sex or age. For example, the largest droppings are often those of big males while small females generally produce less voluminous droppings.

Moreover, the very appearance of these droppings is indicative of the hedgehog’s health. A solid consistency indicates good health, while a soft consistency could indicate a parasitic infestation or weakened health in the animal.

These gathered information can greatly help in better understanding and protecting our nocturnal garden friends while ensuring their well-being in our green spaces.

On the trail of hedgehog footprints

The traces left by animals in their environment can often tell us a lot about their behavior and habits. Among these clues, hedgehogs’ footprints are particularly distinctive. Typically, they reveal five toes accompanied by long claws and a prominent plantar arch on the hind legs. The size of these prints generally varies between 2 and 3 centimeters.

These small mammals have the peculiarity of having slightly inward-facing front paws and outward-facing hind paws. This detail can help in identifying more easily the direction of their movement when studying their track.

Spotting the paths used by hedgehogs is facilitated by certain indicators in the landscape. For example, their routes can be observed near the following elements:

  • Holes under fences
  • Edges of a woodpile
  • Near a composter
  • Along walls

At dawn, it is not uncommon to clearly distinguish these paths on the grass still covered with morning dew, offering a fascinating view of the last nocturnal activities of these enigmatic creatures. The formed trails then show a complex network that can measure between 6 and 10 centimeters in thickness depending on the repeated passage of the animals.

The careful study of the traces left not only helps identify the animal but also understand its regular use of the terrain it traverses.

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Do not search for hedgehog nests

Hedgehogs, these small nocturnal and solitary mammals, have very particular habits regarding their habitat. Their living space generally consists of nests that they use as temporary shelters when on the move or for giving birth. It is essential not to disturb these spaces as hedgehog mothers can easily abandon their young if they feel threatened.

Due to their discreet nature and the high risk of human interference, especially in gardens where they can be accidentally injured by tools such as forks or lawnmowers, it is recommended to create secure areas for them. A good practice is to create a specific shelter for hedgehogs in a quiet corner of the garden.

These artificial shelters can be carefully made and placed in a quiet location to offer security and comfort to hedgehogs without risking the intrusion of predators like cats. The entrance should be designed to be accessible only to hedgehogs, thus preventing other animals from entering.

This initiative not only protects these charming creatures but also contributes to the biodiversity of the garden by providing a safe refuge for a beneficial species that helps in the natural control of harmful insects.

Participate in the study of hedgehogs

The hedgehog, although quite common, remains a mystery to many. Unlike other species such as wolves or storks, whose populations are rigorously counted, we do not have precise data on the number of hedgehogs or the evolution of their population in France.

This lack of quantitative information makes it difficult to raise awareness and take action concerning the decline of the hedgehog observed in several regions. Indeed, as road traffic increases, there is a significant decrease in cases of mortality due to road accidents involving hedgehogs. This reduction can reach up to 50% in just ten years in some places, suggesting a worrying decrease in the number of these animals.

Without concrete figures to support these observations, it is difficult to include the hedgehog in red lists of threatened species. This prevents the implementation of effective strategies for its conservation and raises less awareness about the diligent fate of this discreet but essential species for our local ecosystems.

The light at the end of the tunnel… and the traces

The LPO has launched a national observatory to study the hedgehog, an animal whose population seems to vary significantly. This observatory seeks to understand the evolution of these animals across the entire French territory in different environments.

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To successfully conduct this research, we solicit the help of the public. Each participant is invited to set up a footprint tunnel in their garden or surroundings. This ingenious system consists of a tube containing food that attracts hedgehogs. When entering this tube, they walk on an ink pad that captures their footprints on a sheet of paper. These impressions are then collected and analyzed to obtain valuable information about their presence and habits.

The data collected through this device is then entered by participants on an online platform designed to facilitate their transmission and processing. Thanks to this standardized methodology, it becomes possible to obtain detailed insights on the geographical and behavioral distribution of hedgehogs.

We hope that many will join this initiative, turning each participant into an ambassador for the hedgehog cause and fostering broad citizen mobilization around this vital observatory for our understanding of this discreet but crucial animal for our local ecosystems.

How to get involved in hedgehog counting?

Imagine turning your garden into a real nature laboratory! This is what the project missionherisson.org proposes, inviting ecology enthusiasts to set up a footprint tunnel in their home or any outdoor space. The goal? To monitor and study local wildlife, with particular attention to hedgehogs, these small nocturnal mammals so beneficial for our gardens.

The principle is simple: you place a tunnel equipped with inked sheets and some bait like kibbles or a sardine. For five days, any curious creature entering the tunnel will leave its footprints there. Thanks to these traces, it will be possible to identify which species frequent your environment.

This initiative not only allows for detecting the presence of hedgehogs but also of other animals such as mice or weasels. With the help of experts, each participant can learn to recognize the different footprints collected.

The data accumulated during this survey greatly contributes to our understanding of local animal populations. They provide a precise view on the density of hedgehogs in different habitats and regions, and even allow to evaluate the evolutionary trends of these populations over time.

Participating is therefore a direct and rewarding way to contribute to the preservation of our biodiversity while familiarizing oneself with the local ecosystem. Are you interested? Embark on this ecological adventure!

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