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
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.
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.
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.