A closer Look At Hedgehog Poo

Here at Home & Roost, we get very excited about poo. Poo can tell you so much about the animals that visit your garden. Which animals visit, where they hang out, what they’re eating, and how healthy they are. Hedgehogs are one of our favourite animals. So we thought it was time to take a closer look at hedgehog poo.

Why is Hedgehog Poo so Exciting?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal. They are out doing their business at night and generally sleep during the day. 

So unless you spend lots of time hanging around your garden after dark, you’ll probably spot hedgehog poo before you catch sight of the beast itself.

In the spring poos are even more exciting. Spotting your first hedgehog poos of the spring means that your hogs have made it through the winter hibernation. They’re out and about again, ready to start thinking about finding a mate.

How to Spot a Hedgehog Poo

What Does Hedgehog Poo Look Like?

The poo of a healthy hedgehog is black to dark brown in colour. Each poo is around 1.5 to 5 centimetres long.

They are sausage shape, with one or both ends slightly pointed. 

They are often almost sparkly due to the bits of beetle skeleton they contain. 

Beetles are a favourite food. But when other foods like worms or even slugs are playing a bigger part in the diet, poos may be lighter in colour and lose their sparkle.

Hedgehog poos are usually found singly, not in little clusters like rabbit poo. 

Do Other Animals Have Poo Similar to Hedgehogs?

Once you have identified hedgehog droppings, you are not likely to confuse them with the scat of any other garden visitor.

Hog poo is quite distinctive.

If you want to be sure you’re not getting confused check out this handy chart from the BBC Wildlife Magazine. It gives you pictures and descriptions of many of the poos you might find in your garden.

The things you might mistake for hedgehog poo are dark coloured slugs. They can look really similar, and it’s an easy mistake to make. We have to hope the hedgehogs don’t make the same mistake, as slugs are a regular part of their diet – yuk!

Where Will I Find Hedgehog Poo?

Many of the animals who visit our gardens are territorial. They use scent, typically urine and faeces, to mark territory. So a fox, for example, will place its poops strategically to let the competition know they are on his patch.

Hedgehogs are not territorial and don’t use poo for territorial scent marking. 

They don’t use “latrines”, or go back to the same place to poo like badgers and deer.

Hedgehogs seem to poop pretty much wherever the urge takes them. Quite often literally on the run, like horses. You will likely spot droppings on your lawn or pathways.

If you have a feeding station, it’s likely to have quite a bit of poo around it. What goes in must come out, right? 

They are not the cleanest animals, and you’re also likely to see poo in the food dish and even in the water.

Hedgehog Poo Dos and Don’ts. 

DO. Take a closer look. Have a poke through a stool with a stick. Breaking it up will give you some information on what your hogs are eating. You should see seeds and pips, and bits of insect exoskeletons.

DON’T. Touch it with your bare hands. Hedgehog poo can contain parasites and bacteria. 

DO. Scoop it. The area around your feeding station is likely to get pretty messy. And hedgehog poos are big enough to be a nuisance on paths or lawns. Once scooped, the poop can go on your compost heap. Some people swear by putting it on borders where they believe it deters slugs from plants like Hostas. Got to be worth a try. 

DON’T. Go into your hedgehog house to clean it up if there is a hog in residence. As we noted earlier hedgehogs aren’t fussy where they poo, so there probably will be poo in the house. But hedgehogs hate being disturbed, so if there is a hedgehog in your house don’t go in to clean until she’s moved out. Your best chances of finding the house empty are April, after hibernation, and October, after the breeding season. Check that no one’s home by leaving a large leaf in the doorway. If it’s still there next morning, the coast is probably clear.

Hedgehog Poo Problems

Hedgehog Poo

Healthy hedgehog poo is usually a distinctive glittery black, But things don’t always look this way. Hedgehogs eat all sorts and can also get upset stomachs through stress, infection and parasites. Then their poo can appear in all kinds of exciting colours and textures.

Green, Hardish Poo Looking a Bit Like Seaweed

There are plenty of reports of this sort of poo, but little hard evidence on what it is. General opinion though seems to be that it’s not a problem. But more likely to be a pre-or post-hibernation gut purge.

Light Brown Sloppy Poo

This could be stress which can be caused by something as simple as a new home. But it’s more likely to be down to the wrong diet. Giving hedgehogs milk to drink is a frequent cause of this type of poo problem. They are lactose intolerant and, despite the old wives’ tales, milk is no good for them at all.

Green Slimy/Jelly Poo

This one could be more worrying and might indicate infection or parasites. One to keep an eye on – unfortunately.

Constipated Hedgehog?

Hedgehogs tend to poo quite freely – some people even call them pooing machines. So hedgehog constipation doesn’t really seem to be a thing. Bear in mind though that as the metabolism slows down for hibernation pooing will slow down too. So if you’re not seeing much poo around hibernation time, this probably isn’t anything to worry about.

One strange stool probably isn’t a cause for concern. But if the problem continues, or is accompanied by other signs of distress, like being off their food or wobbly, then you probably want to get the hog to the vet or your local Hedgehog Rescue.

Hedgehog Poo Under the Microscope

If you do end up going to the vet or local rescue centre with poo problems, remember to take a sample of the offending poo with you if you possibly can.

Vets and most Hedgehog Rescue Projects are trained to look more closely at hedgehog faeces. 

Under the Microscope, some of the most common hedgehog parasites, like fluke and lungworm, are easily spotted. They can usually be treated if detected early enough.

More Information on Helping Hedgehogs

The hedgehog population in Britain is in trouble. Food is in short supply, and traditional habitats are disappearing. Our prickly friends need all the help they can get.  

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make your garden into a perfect hedgehog habitat.

If you’re interested in finding out more Take a look at our hedgehog library here.

Or find your local Hedgehog rescue project here.

We hope you have found this post interesting and useful If you have any questions or hedgehog tales we would love to hear them. Leave us a comment below.

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12 Responses

  1. To my delight since moving to Paignton 13 years ago, I discovered last August that there have been hedgehogs enjoying life here for many years according to a phone call from a recently moved ex-neighbour. This was after telling her that my little, blind Cairn Terrier had alerted me to something in the back garden at twilight, proving to be a very fine, large hedgehog beneath the hedge! This has led to installing two well-designed feeding hutches sheltered under the bushy poplar tree (a third near the back wall under shrubs proved to have been commandeered by a colony of little bumble bees). Guided by the local hedgehog rescue centre, a total of five saucers are now raided for the best, sensitive cat biscuits and wet cat chicken food. The Spy Cam tells me that the trick of narrowing the entrances with bricks to foil the crafty local cat’s free dining around midnight has definitely worked and although I rise very early, sometimes the determined magpies have squeezed in to try their luck, dragging out the fresh lining paper each day. I only wish it was possible to stay up all night to try a ‘tagging’ method or similar (!) to identify each one and also to count just how many of them are in their community. They range from the first spotted gigantic one to what may be juveniles from last year. Fascinating pictures. Many thanks for all your interesting communications – no danger of numbers of hogs dwindling here! Best wishes to you all.

  2. I have a three legged hedgehog comes every night and we put out a small bowl of food for it. It has been coming for about two and a half months now and we get great pleasure from watching it and so do our grandchildren.

    1. Hi Sue,

      Isn’t it amazing how many of them seem to get around absolutely fine on there legs.

      Enjoy!

      Clare

  3. Hello
    I’m looking for some advice.
    We have a hedgehog in our garden who seems to live/nest in a large clump of shaded grasses beneath a tree. We have seen it around the garden in recent weeks around 6pm.
    Today at 11am (sunny bright day) I heard him moving around his grass. He then emerged, walked along the side of the house to the opposite side of the garden, did a runny poo and then cut back across the lawn to his (her?) nest.
    This doesn’t sound like typical hedgehog behaviour. Do you think he’s ok.
    There were no fly’s around him, he seemed to walk steadily and with purpose.
    Any advice would be appreciated 🙂

    1. Hi There,

      At my age I often have to get up to use the loo in the night – sounds like your hog has the same problem!

      Seriously though, if he was moving purposefully, which it sounds as though he was, then there’s nothing to worry about.

      Best

      Clare

    2. As you said it’s unusual for a hog to be out in the day so adding that to ‘runny poo’ situation – these two factors could indicate the hog isn’t well.
      I carry out a poo patrol of the garden each day and this helped save one of my hogs.
      Her poo was runny and foul smelling. So I caught her and took her to the local rescue centre. She was diagnosed as having parasites in her tummy. They said she would have had a constant tummy ache from the parasites and left untreated would have eventually caused her a painful death.
      Following her treatment and a couple of weeks in rescue she is now healthy and happy to be back in the garden. Happy Ending.

  4. Hello,I live in a small village called Gifford east lothian scotland. Since last year i have six hedgehogs that come from nine oclock onwards.I get special hedgehog food which they love.Dishes are emptied every night.I am however now down to four so not sure where the other two have gone.Hopefully they are well.

  5. We have a hedgehog residing in our hedge hog house! We also have a visiting hog , a ver big hedge hog who is regular visitor and partaken of the food that I leave in the feeding station! Last night I weighed the visitor, he /she was 810gm! Unfortunately I couldn’t catch our resident hog but it’s if a similar size! Might try tonight to weigh it! Last week we had a l baby hedgehog visit as well ! It was out during the day so I took it to our local vet! It only weighed 210gm so they are keeping it and treating him as he’s very dehydrated so wouldn’t survive hibernation! Fingers crossed he survives but they phoned Friday with an update which isn’t looking very positive! If he does survive I might have him back and overwinter him indoors in one of your hedgehog hutches🤞

  6. Since we got CCTV we noticed hedgehog’s in our garden, we bought a house for them, we buy them food and mealworms, most days one sleeps in there. all day.We have a camera inside the box that was in our bird box, we can see when he is in residence.

    1. Hi mealworms are not recommended for hedgehogs as they can cause a nasty bone disease. Kitten biscuits and a dish of water are a great food choice.

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