Hedgehog – Erinaceus europaeus
Size: 150-300mm head and body length, dependant on age; tail: 10-20mm.
Hedgehogs survive well in gardens, particularly assisted by food put out for them, as modern tidy gardens may not otherwise provide sufficient food. Gardens can also be hazardous. Strimmers cut back rank vegetation in the very places hedgehogs lie up during the day, causing serious wounds to the sleeping animals.
Hedgehogs hibernate under garden bonfire heaps. These should always be turned over before being burnt. Hedgehogs swim well but easily drown in smooth-sided garden ponds, being unable to escape from them. Ponds (and swimming pools) should have a piece of chicken wire dangling into the water to help the animals climb out. Garden netting is also dangerous unless staked down tightly to avoid hedgehogs becoming entangled.
Unmistakable coat of several thousand spines along the back, speckled brown and cream. Brown pointed furry face, small black eyes and big nose. Adults are between 150mm and 300mm in length.
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Footprints: Hedgehog tracks are best identified by using a footprint tunnel. They are five-toed, with a sharp claw on the end. They are 28mm in width and 25mm in length. To record footprints, a tunnel can be placed alongside hedgerows and in gardens. A footprint guide and protocol are both available from The Mammal Society.
Droppings: They can be found in grassland and farmland, and in people’s gardens. They are crinkly, often studded with shiny fragments due to their diet of insects. Variable size, 15-50mm long, 8-10mm thick. Colour: blue-black. Smell: Sweet, hint of linseed oil.