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What killed my hedgehog?

Home Forums Carers / rescuing a hedgehog What killed my hedgehog?

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    I’ve been really worried since I found my big hedgehog dead in the garden last Autumn.
    We’ve had hedgehogs around for years as we live on the edge of large fields, but there has been a massive decline in recent years, more noticeably since they started using the large tractors to cut the grass 🙁
    My neighbours & I are very wildlife friendly & I used to put out food/water for ‘my’ hedgehogs during some colder nights before hibernation.
    I went out one morning in September & found my lovely, big hedgehog dead; very near to the hedge & food/water. It was on its side & had a visible tear on its underbelly, but it did not seem to have been eaten at all? We have never had badgers round here, rather the odd fox & rabbits in the fields & several neighbourhood cats.
    What would have killed it & why if it wasn’t for food?
    Could it have been an owl, sparrowhawk, or even a domestic cat? It’s really been troubling me as we haven’t seen any hedgehogs since & I fear we won’t now.


    Hi, Sorry to hear about your hog…very strange, is it possible that it could have been hit by a vehicle and suffered head or internal injuries, but managed to reach the safety of your garden? I have been told several stories recently of hedgehogs actively seeking out hedgehog friendly people and carers in times of need. Like you say, it’s unlikely to have been a badger or a fox if it wasn’t eaten, it would have to be a very large owl to tackle a fully grown hedgehog and most of the cats around here run a mile at the sight of prickles!

    Last year was a very strange one for hedgehogs with the uncharacteristically and prolonged hot, dry weather. Many people, including myself noticed them disappearing much earlier in the year than usual. One of our mob returned at the beginning of January and he has been visiting for dinner every night since. If there is one thing that we do know about hedgehogs it’s that they are unpredictable…hopefully they will all return safe and well in the spring.

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    Hi Mandy

    I was so sorry to hear about the poor hedgehog. I know how hard it is to lose one of our hedgehog visitors, especially one we have got to know well.

    It sounds very likely to me that this was a result of some sort of garden/agricultural machinery. Hedgehogs can get really terrible injuries from garden strimmers/brush-cutters, etc. and many don’t survive. I had a poor chap here once, who turned up one afternoon with a terrible gash. Sadly his injury was too bad for him to survive and he had to be euthanased by the vets I took him to. Even worse that what he died from was not natural causes.

    More needs to be done about educating people how to avoid such terrible accidents. Such as checking carefully that there are no hedgehogs present before strimming or even mowing. Many frogs probably lose their lives for similar reasons.

    You might like to read the following from the BHPS about gardening with hedgehogs.

    There are various posters around. I can look some out for you if you’re interested. But you may also like to read in case you find any other dead hedgehogs.

    Sadly country hedgehogs in general seem to be having a tough time, but good luck with the other hedgehogs there. It’so nice that your neighbours are wildlife friendly as well.


    Hi mandy.sheldrake1,

    was the tear a clean cut or ragged? Did the tear look to have been significant, new or old?
    His demise could have been any number of things – or not tear related at all perhaps.
    The hog could have escaped the clutches of a predator perhaps – but the only predator that can open up their spiny defence to get to their soft underbelly is the badger and hogs don’t often escape a badgers fierce claws tbh – and the hogs natural defence is to curl up and not run. Foxes don’t usually predate them, but can torment hogs and break their back legs. Cats wouldn’t have the strength, unless the hog was ill, similarly an owl would be faced with a curled spiny back, unless the hog was ill and defenceless.
    Perhaps he got caught on something himself or trying to climb over something?

    You could have correctly associated the hog number decline with the local landowners use of larger tractors for cutting etc. These machines are unforgiving on the coverage and many farmers are being driven to using every square inch of their land to cultivate crops etc. I understand the government are supposed to be bringing in some incentives for less intense farming and letting a proportion of their land go a little wild in order to support the wildlife which is struggling to survive in whats left – but that cant come soon enough and may be too little too late.
    If you have a collective neighbourhood who share your concerns – could you pick up Chris Packham’s challenge he made on Winterwatch last week (don’t know if you watch that) – but to try and persuade your local farmer(s) to let at least some or a little of his edges and hedges go back to supporting wildlife and get ahead of the curve? Could be a life saver for your remaining hogs? Perhaps a local wildlife committee or Trust could help support the cause and get some focus on changes needed?


    Unexplained deaths of hedgehogs (and other garden visitors) are being investigated, with post-mortems being undertaken.

    If you find a deceased hedgehog (etc), double bag it using plastic bags, put in a cool place, and report using the following website.

    They will let you know if they require the carcass and send packaging.

    This is helping to build up a picture of the threats to our garden wildlife.

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