Hedgehogs in Saxony: Facing Growing Perils

by | Jan 19, 2024 | German Daily Digest | 0 comments

Growing Threats to Hedgehogs in Saxony


Hedgehogs, beloved creatures known for their prickly spines, are facing increasing dangers in the German state of Saxony. Despite not being classified as endangered in the region, their population is under threat due to several factors. Their habitats are shrinking, leading to a shortage of food as they struggle to find enough insects to sustain themselves. However, hedgehog associations are working tirelessly to aid injured and sick animals.

The Status of Hedgehogs in Saxony

According to a spokesperson from the State Office for Environment, Agriculture, and Geology, although the hedgehog population in Saxony is encountering mounting perils, it is not currently deemed endangered. The 2015 Red List of Mammals in Saxony categorizes them as “least concern,” while the 2020 Red List of Germany places them on the “pre-warning list.” The Brown-breasted Hedgehog has been designated as the Animal of the Year 2024 by the German Wildlife Foundation. Hedgehogs have been documented across Saxony, ranging from lowlands to the high elevations of the Ore Mountains. The precise number of hedgehogs residing in Saxony remains unknown. They predominantly inhabit settlements and their outskirts, gardens, hedges, shrubs, green spaces, and open forests.

Threats to Hedgehogs in Saxony

The decline of small, natural habitats due to soil sealing, the use of insecticides, the loss of refuge areas, and food sources are all serious threats to hedgehogs, as reported by the State Office. They also face significant losses from road traffic, red foxes, and roaming dogs. In recent years, the danger posed by automated lawnmowers has emerged. The drought of preceding years likely worsened the availability of food for hedgehogs. Christel Jeske, chairperson of the Saxon Animal Welfare Association, expressed concern, stating that “2023 was a tough year for hedgehogs” as they became increasingly deprived of insects as a food source. Many of the hedgehogs brought to rescue centers are injured, weakened, or ill. The nocturnal operation of lawnmowers by many gardeners disrupts their foraging, while deep fences and sealed surfaces further hinder their search for food. The mild weather prevents younger hedgehogs from entering hibernation. In the past year, more than 1,270 injured or sick hedgehogs were brought to the Igelhilfe station in Radebeul, with five more arriving in the first few days of the new year. The Radebeul Igelhilfe, located on the outskirts of Dresden, is likely the largest hedgehog rescue center in Saxony. In 2022, 1,056 hedgehogs were delivered to the center, and in 2021, the number rose to around 1,700. Karina Görner, the head of the center, described the previous year as the “worst hedgehog year” to date, with weeks between August and October seeing up to 150 hedgehogs found and brought to the center. Görner reported that many of the hedgehogs suffer severe injuries caused by garden machines such as lawnmowers and motorized hedge trimmers. Approximately one in every four to five hedgehogs is beyond help, and some are severely underweight.

Efforts to Protect Hedgehogs in Saxony

Organizations like Stachelnasen in Zwickau and Chemnitz played a crucial role in caring for hedgehogs. In the past year, they received approximately 480 hedgehogs, with 68 still in their care. Among them, 31 require indoor care until reaching a weight of around 650 grams before the onset of hibernation. Similar to other areas, the rescue centers in Zwickau and Chemnitz witnessed severe injuries caused by lawnmowers. Hedgehogs fell into holes, got entangled in fences, or even trapped in sports nets on the field. Despite the challenges, dedicated individuals and organizations are working tirelessly to protect and rescue these adorable creatures.

“2023 was a tough year for hedgehogs. The animals are finding fewer and fewer insects as food. Many of the hedgehogs brought to the rescue centers are injured, weakened, and sick. Many gardeners run lawnmowers at night when the animals are active. Deep fences or sealed surfaces also hinder their search for food. Especially during the months of August to October, there are weeks when up to 150 hedgehogs are found and brought to the centers.”

It is crucial for communities and individuals to raise awareness about the threats hedgehogs face and take steps to protect their habitats. By preserving natural environments, reducing the use of chemical agents, and implementing hedgehog-friendly practices, it is possible to create a safer future for these enchanting creatures in Saxony.

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