Discover your nocturnal visitors...

Hedgehog Survey

Getting ready for your survey

The most accurate way to tell if hedgehogs visit your Naturespace is by completing a footprint survey or by using a trail camera. During these surveys you will investigate whether hedgehogs live in or visit your Naturespace. The best time to survey is from April until the end of October, when hedgehogs are most likely to be active. You can take our quiz to test your skills at identifying hedgehog footprints. Additionally, if you have a hedgehog house, you can also take a short survey to see if a hedgehog has taken up residence.

If you are planning on adding wildlife passageways to your Naturespace, it would be great if you could do a footprint survey before and after to see if adding a passageway has encouraged hedgehogs to visit! Make sure you record this wildlife action.

What you will need to conduct the survey
  • A fun and scientifically accurate way to tell if hedgehogs visit your Naturespace is by setting up tunnels that can pick up the footprints of hedgehogs and other animals.
    Equipment needed for the survey:
    • Hedgehog footprint tunnel(s) – you can either buy a ready-made tunnel (eg from Wildcare) or make your own by following these instructions (tent pegs are handy to secure the tunnel)
    • A small dish with bait – use commercially available hedgehog food, tinned dog or cat food (not fish-based), or crushed dog or cat biscuits
    • A4 paper
    • Masking tape
    • Animal-friendly ink (either make your own from a 1:1 mix of vegetable oil and charcoal powder, or use non-toxic black poster paint) and a sponge/brush
    • ‘Do not disturb’ signs if you are leaving the tunnel somewhere other people may discover it (optional)
    Footprint tunnel instructions:
    • Identify areas where hedgehogs might walk if they were in your Naturespace. Hedgehogs like to move along ‘edges’, so along a fence or hedge line, around the sides of a shed or between a flower border and bushes may all be possible places.
    • Choose a few days when you will be able to check and change the tracking paper in your hedgehog tunnel(s) every day for a minimum of four days. This should only take a few minutes every morning and evening, but will take longer if you have more than one tunnel.
    • Prepare your hedgehog tunnel(s), bait, tracking paper and ink, and set them up along your identified ‘edges’. Make sure they are secured with tent pegs so that they don’t move around. Tunnels can be set at any time of day, but be aware that other animals may investigate. Make sure that the entrance of the tunnel is level with the ground at either end. Hedgehog tunnel istructions are below.
    • Attach two sheets of A4 paper to your tracking tunnel base plate using butterfly fasteners or paperclips.
    • Add a band of masking tape 8cm wide on either side of where the food will go. These are your ‘ink pads’ so they need to be wide enough that a hedgehog cannot step over them to get to the food!
    • Sponge or paint your ink onto your ink pads and leave the tunnel(s) out for one night.
    • At a convenient time the next day (preferably in the morning), check the tunnels.
    • Remove the tracking paper, label it (eg day 1) and place inside a folder.
    • Replace with new blank tracking paper and check the bait and ink (replenish if necessary), ready for the next night.
    • Repeat for any additional tunnels, ensuring that the tracking paper is labelled with the day and, if you have multiple tunnels, the tunnel number.
    • Use the hedgehog spotter’s guide to identify any tracks that appear on your tracking paper and submit your results.
    Hedgehog Tunnel

    Diagrams used with permission from the National Hedgehog Survey.

    Download the DIY Guide
  • Trail cameras are a great way to see what visits your Naturespace. You can set them to take photos or videos and we would love to see what you capture!
    Equipment needed for the survey:
    • A ‘trail camera’ with night-time infra-red capabilities, plus SD card for image and video storage
    • A small dish with bait – use commercially available hedgehog food, tinned dog or cat food (not fish-based), or crushed dog or cat biscuits
    • ‘Do not disturb’ signs if you are leaving the camera somewhere other people may discover it (optional)
    Trail camera instructions:
    • Identify areas where hedgehogs might walk in your Naturespace. Hedgehogs like to move along ‘edges’, so along a fence or hedge line, around the sides of a shed or between a flower border and bushes may all be possible places.
    • Choose a time when you have a few days in a row when you will have enough time to check and download the trail camera SD card for images or videos and replace the bait. This should only take a few minutes each day and if your camera has a big enough battery and enough memory storage, then you might be able to leave it out for all four nights.
    • Prepare your bait and trail camera, then set them up along your identified ‘edges’. Make sure the camera is well secured so that it won’t be moved by any inquisitive animals!
    • Set your camera facing along the ‘edge’ with the bait in front of the camera, so that you will capture the coming and goings of any garden visitors.
    • At a convenient time the next day (preferably in the morning), check the camera and bait. Save any images or videos to your computer, making sure you record the date.
    • Replace with new bait in the evening ready for the next night.
    • After four nights, submit the results of your survey (or you can do this earlier if you have found hedgehogs!)
  • If you have a hedgehog house in your Naturespace you can place a small, lightweight object in front of the entrance to find out whether or not there are hedgehogs using it. There may also be other clues that a hedgehog has taken up residence. This could include bedding materials being taken into the house, making the entrance look slightly ‘messy’. It is important you don’t open the lid of the house and disturb the hedgehog, especially during the breeding season.

    Please do take photos of your hedgehog house and share them with us! However, make sure you don’t get too close and disturb any hedgehogs, and avoid taking photos with a flash.
    Equipment needed for the survey:
    Hedgehog house instructions:
    • Place the small, lightweight object in front of the entrance to the hedgehog house before it gets dark.
    • Check the object in the morning to see if it has moved.
    • If it has, you may have a hedgehog in residence! Consider taking one of our other hedgehog surveys to know for sure, as other animals may also move the object.
    Download the DIY Guide
What to do if you didn't see hedgehogs...

If you didn't find any evidence of hedgehogs, it is still useful for us to know the result, so we can build up a clearer picture of where hedgehogs do and don’t live. If you would like to find out how to do more for hedgehogs in your Naturespace check out the hedgehog species page.

©Earthwatch 2018  

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Unless otherwise credited, all illustrations © Chris Shields, and all wildlife photographs © Steven Falk
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