Hedgehog poo
Helping hedgehogs

How to identify hedgehog poo

Hedgehog poo
Hedgehog poo – the morning after the night before!

Many people get excited about the first signs of Spring – daffodils raising their sunny heads and delicate snowdrops swaying in the breeze…. But for me, poo is the most exciting sign of Spring….

Hedgehogs are nocturnal and, unless you plan to spend endless hours camped out by your patio doors or invest in a wildlife camera, you are more likely to see hedgehog excrement than the creature that left it.

Hedgehogs emerge from hibernation any time from March onwards and the sign of fresh black droppings on the lawn is a wonderful sign that my spiky friends have emerged safely from their deep sleep. The ‘poo calendar’ reminds me that it is time to leave out fresh water and food every day to help my prickly guests.

Top tip: If you want to know if you have a hedgehog visitor, go on a poo hunt around your garden!

Healthy hedgehog droppings are black or dark brown in colour, solid and usually oval or tapered. They can be up to 5cm long. Stools also provide a vital insight into the hedgehog diet. Hedgehog poo will often ‘glisten’ due to being packed with the remains of invertebrates, such as beetle wings and other body parts. Contrary to popular belief, hedgehogs don’t just eat slugs. Beetles are their favourite foods and eating too many slugs can actually be bad for them as they are an intermediate host for lungworm. This horrid parasite can cause weight loss, breathing problems and ultimately death.

hogpiechart

Top tip: Help your hedgehogs to have lovely healthy shiny black poo by packing your garden with native plants and log piles to attract beetles. There more plants the better!

Wildlife gardening
Flowers in my wildlife garden

Hedgehog poo is also a vital indicator of health in other ways. Green slimy poo can be a sign that a hedgehog is poorly and in need of rescue, so keep a close eye on your hedgehogs if you see any dodgy poo around your feeding stations. It is vital to keep the feeding stations clean (just like you would with bird feeders).

Hedgehog green poo and blood in poo
Green poo can be a sign of internal parasites or bacterial infection

Hedgehog rescuers like myself also love looking at poo under the microscope. Parasites can be identified under the microscope that can then be treated, with the most common being lungworm (from slugs) and roundworm (from earthworms). Bacterial infections can also be identified. Studying poo is one of my favourite pastimes…

Looking at hedgehog poo through the microscope
Studying poo under the microscope
Roundworm in hedgehog poo under microsope credit Whitby Wildlife Rescue
Roundworm eggs under the microscope: courtesy Whitby Wildlife Rescue
Lungworm in hedgehog poo under microscope credit Whitby Wildlife Rescue
Lungworm under the microscope: courtesy Whitby Wildlife Rescue

If you’re still not sure if the poo is from a hedgehog or a different visitor, please also check out my guide to other common wildlife poo…. You can also take a look and see whether any hedgehogs have been sighted and mapped near to you on the Big Hedgehog Map.

So, poo glorious poo, my favourite sign of Spring!

My hedgehog rescue is entirely self-funded. If you’ve found this blog post useful, you can read more about my work here and also how to support it.

I don’t put detailed information on my page about the treatments I use but I follow the Vale Wildlife protocols for treating hedgehogs. If you are a hedgehog rehabilitator and would like any advice, please get in touch here. If you are caring for a hedgehog, you can also send off poo samples for testing via the information found here.

I make handmade silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise funds for my hedgehog hospital. You can visit my shop here.

Handmade silver nature jewellery by little silver hedgehog
Handmade silver nature jewellery by little silver hedgehog

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47 thoughts on “How to identify hedgehog poo”

  1. Hi, I too have my hedgehog back!! He used to sleep in his Hog Box all last summer but didnt hibernate there. However, yesterday I checked the box and there he was fast asleep, so I put his food out ready for his walkabout!! So pleased that he is back, but I wish I knew where he decided stay over the winter!

      1. oooo thanks for that! I had no idea that they moved during milder spells of weather, I thought they found a place and stayed there until the warmer weather came! :))

  2. This year we had had so many hedgehogs in the garden, 7 in total, 6 we have had to send off because they have been too small to survive the winter.
    We still have one a a permanent resist dent, but that’s a different story.

  3. I live in Darlington in summer four Hedgehogs two stayed well into cold weather, they all went Into box
    .. But never stayed…One hog has only missed two weeks before Christmas..He feeds everynight but not sure if he lives in box…I dare not lift the lid incase I frighten it. Carol

  4. I discovered two hedgehogs in my garden last night. They seemed to be having some kind of a stand-off. One backed the other under the bird table and then it ran off into the shrubbery. I saw that they like to hibernate under sheds. What sort of base would be most conducive to that? I’m just about to put one in! Grateful for any help to make the garden more hedgehog friendly.

  5. We left some water outside the conservatory door for the cat when she’s outside. To our surprise yesterday afternoon a hedgehog was drinking the water. We were thrilled, it was there for at least five minutes drinking continually and then trotted of into the back of the garden were there is plenty of shelter. We back onto a farmers field but there are hedges all the way round. We had seen some unidentified poo and now wonder if this was the hedgehog. Unfortunately we have had rats in this area and didn’t know whether it was rat droppings. Leaving out food could be a problem because of this. We will keep the water topped up.

  6. So excited to spot my first hedgehog poo left by our bin in the passageway we know is used by at least 2 hoggies to get in and out of our garden. Glistening and black healthy poo! So delighted to know they are thriving after such a long hot spell.

  7. Also so excited, saw a hedgehog early hours of the morning, just read these replies and went looking for poo! It’s everywhere, under our plum tree, by our outdoor tomatoes on the patio!

  8. havn’t seen hedgehogs in our garden for a few years now, but to my delight this morning a lot of hedgehog poo by our compost bin amongst the nettles and also on our front lawn. Going to leave some water out tonight and also food, cat food probably. cannot wait!

    1. I found what I thought was a hedgehog poop on the patio, but when I opened it it was full of grass, not insects….any idea why ?
      Defo not rat poo.

  9. We have had a hedgehog for two days in our garden, it hides in the day-time and leaves its black poo on the lawn, we have concrete gravel boards under the fencing and metal railed gates, so we don’t know how he got in, he scoops out dirt 6inches deep, looking for worms we think, we also think he hides under the pyracantha bushes

  10. That is brilliant news. Hope you can take action to help the hedgehogs. That is so sad that there are concrete gravel boards – is there a reason for that? Sadly it is one of the major causes of hedgehog decline – people fencing them out of gardens and loss of habitat 😦

  11. I found what I thought was a hedgehog poop on the patio; black, firm, shiny, not smelly, but when I opened it it was full of grass, not insects….any idea why ?
    Defo not rat poo. I have fotos

    1. Hello, hard to know without seeing pics but hedgehogs don’t eat grass. Have you cut your grass recently – is it possible that some has somehow got caught up in some poo? Do you ever see hedgehogs in your garden?

      1. No , this is definitely ingested grass.
        I have only recently moved here and one neighbour says he has hedgehogs, but next doors say they haven’t seen one in years…
        The only other possibility is a bit of cat poo that fell off its fur later….but it seems to have some seeds in it. There are three bits, each as long as a cigarette butt, firm, and dry outside, and tapered. Inside is dry mush with clear grass bits. Is there a way to post you fotos ?

      2. Just had a closer look… there may be some iridescent spots and defo two teeny things that look like red wood lice….

  12. Saw a hedgehog on my patio the other night. Have bought a hedgehog house and a feeding station. Don’t know if the hedgehog is eating the food or whether it’s mice / rats. How can u find out ?

  13. We’ve just used this to identify the fresh poo on our garden lawn today. Weve had hedgehogs visit before as we have cut holes in fencing backing onto fields. I’d put out a homemade feeding station stocked with water and cat biscuits a couple of nights ago so it has been discovered really quickly. All th biscuits and a lot of the water gone. We need to put out the homemade hedgehog house and the wildlife camera now. Makes us feel good doing something for nature

  14. Just found your website. I have two feeding stations and a hibernation box which has a resident which only took up occupancy in early February. I have left food and water out all through winter but didn’t have any food taken until early March. The wildlife camera reveals an ever growing population. Last year, at peak I had hogs feeding from 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM. I have been adding diatomaceous earth to the food and water to keep down the ticks, lice and mites. You don’t need a lot, but about two teaspoons per kilo. I have had hogs with over thirty ticks and the DE kills them off. This was a tip from a professional rescuer.

  15. Last year’s hedgehog returned to my garden last week and is happily cleaning my garden of pests.

    However today I found some hedgehog poo that was absolutely riddled with maggots (inside and out) and that is a first.

    Should I worry?

  16. Last year’s hedgehog returned to my garden last week and is happily cleaning my garden of pests.

    However today I found some hedgehog poo that was absolutely riddled with maggots (inside and out) and that is a first.

    Should I worry?

    1. Let’s hope so.

      The little guy acted normally last night and seemed to have a healthy appetite chomping away at some cat’s food.

  17. I have made a hedgehog house with a tunnel going to the sleeping area a hog has been in there all winter now he or she has grown the other morning the food had not been touched I took the lid off the box hog still in there I was wondering if opening out of the sleeping area was ok it is 100mm sq is that ok I lifted the hog out cleaned the box out and put in fresh hay now the hog is not sleeping in the box but comes back at night for food and water did I do the wrong thing.

  18. Hello, I wouldn’t be too worried. They don’t tend to ‘live’ in a box forever. They tend to move around between different nest sites. Some they use in Winter and not Summer and the other way round. Main thing is to provide them with options 🙂

  19. Hi my neighbour told me she has hedgehogs in her garden. Well this morning I was eating my breakfast on the patio and my husband discovered a poo. We thought it unlikely that our neighbourhood cats would have done it as they usually dig the soil up. It sure looks like a hedgehog poo. I have also noticed for quite a while that the birds water bowl has been completely empty so suspected that we may have a visiting hedgehog. I am reluctant to put cat food out which would probably be consumed by the neighbourhood cats. Is it better to leave them to insects in our garden and make sure the water bowl is kept full.

  20. Hi
    I have just started feeding a hedgehog in my new back garden. It came last night and finished off the Hedgehog Bites I put out- made by a company called Ernest Charles. However, I spotted a poo nearby that is green and loose. Now I’m worried the little fellow is sick. I haven’t ever seen it. Do you have any advice what to do?

    1. Hello! Sorry for slow reply. You need to make sure that any green poo is washed away daily as it could be contagious to other hedgehogs. The best you can do though is to look out for any hedgehogs in the day (a sign that something is wrong) as it can be virtually impossible to work out which hedgehog did it. It can be caused by several things but the main thing is to keep the area as clean as possible and change any paper in feeding stations regularly x

  21. Hi My Hedgehog is back – lots of poo on the lawn this morning – we do have a house for him and know that he has used it but not sure if he was in it over winter – but all good – healthy black poo Lol

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