On the trail of the Hedgehog

Photo by Pat Morris

Have you seen a hedgehog? A new citizen science project is asking people to look out for our spiky wildlife as part of the Irish Hedgehog Survey. There are a number of ways that the public can take part in the survey.

Firstly, and simply, if you see a hedgehog (alive or dead) you can record your sighting via a special hedgehog recording page on the Biodiversity Ireland website. This will provide important information for the researchers on where and how people see hedgehogs in Ireland.

If you fancy doing some hedgehog detective work, you might like to take part in the Garden Hedgehog Volunteer Survey. This requires a little more effort but it is quite easy and it’s a great project for families to do together. You can survey your own garden, your school garden or the green area in your estate. The garden survey asks you to survey for hedgehogs in your garden for 5 nights in a row using either a footprint tunnel which you can make yourself, or a trail camera if you have one. You then submit the results of your survey on an online form. You can read more about the survey, download the instructions and submit the results on the Irishhedgehogsurvey.com website.

Hedgehog footprints are quite distinctive – they look like little hands!

A footprint tunnel is a cardboard or corrugated plastic tunnel containing some food to attracts the animals into the tunnel. To get to the food they must walk over some ink and paper which captures their footprints. Its a simple, cheap and harmless way to check for the presence of hedgehogs and other small animals. A five night survey is usually long enough to tell whether or not you have a hedgehog in your garden.

Below is a short video clip to show you how to make a footprint tunnel

A quick guide to making a footprint tunnel – you can use cardboard or corrugated plastic – here we have use two old election posters taped together!

You can download the instructions to survey using a footprint tunnel or a trail camera by clicking on the images below.

Download instructions for the footprint tunnel survey.
Photo by Claire Crowley. Download instructions for trail camera survey

This project is an initiative of researchers at the Zoology Department at NUI Galway with the support of the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

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