Although hedgehog numbers are shrinking, we are out there!
Because we only normally come out at night, our paths don't tend to cross much, and even if they do, you just might not notice us in the dark!
So how can you tell if we are there?
Well... here are a few signs to look out for
Unfortunately, one of the most likely things you'll see that let you know hedgehogs are around is a rather sad one, that's one of us squashed on the road. It's very sad to know that a fellow hedgehog has met such a horrible end, but, what this does sometimes suggest is that populations are fairly strong in such areas. Still, such things are tragic, particularly as numbers continue to fall, so if you're driving at night, if you could keep an eye out for us in urban areas please....
Flattened grass, squashed soil, disturbed leaf litter; us hedgehogs tend to leave signs that we have been passing through and having a snuffle about. Look for tracks through longer grass (or lawn grass for that matter) or small tunnels through undergrowth - we often make a mess as we're foraging for our grub! A good time to see such clues is first thing in the morning through the dew on the lawn.
Both our front and back feet have five toes, just like your hands and feet, though sometimes only four toes will show up on the tracks. Our front feet are wider, and you might think the tracks look a little bit like little hands - it's not elves or fairies, it's us hogs! Our back feet are longer than our front feet, and thinner so the imprints are narrower.
If you want to try and capture our tracks, footprint tunnel kits can be bought or made. If you suspect we're passing by a particular path, place it there - they aren't anything special, but they are a good way to see if us hedgehogs are commuting through your patch.
Well, if you fancy looking at our poo, I won't stop you! Our droppings can vary depending on the diet of the hedgehog, but are generally dark brown-grey or black, firm and typically packed with the exoskeletons of invertebrates, such as beetles. They are often found on their own, are roughly cylindrical and sometimes tapered. They can range in length from 15-50mm.
If you put food out at night and it disappears, it could well be that a hedgehog has been by. It's definitely not fool-proof however, as other munchers might also steal things you leave out for us (cats, squirrels, birds - they'll all sneak our food!)
Go into your garden at night and listen. Hedgehogs are noisier than you think, and you may hear them snuffling and huffing around as they search for food. In the spring they can get very noisy, as they fight over females. Remember, the pig-like sounds are how we got our name!