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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30 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 ?

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