Robotic lawnmowers are posing a real threat to hedgehogs. Here's how you can help – Hayley Matthews

Given it's Hedgehog Awareness Week from tomorrow, I thought I'd use my words this week to give these beautiful little creatures a helping hand/paw, because I've always loved hedgehogs since I've been knee high to a grasshopper.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 7:00 am
Hedgehogs have a new and unnatural threat in the shape of robotic lawn mowers (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

I've helped many a hedgehog and remember one time seeing a huge one in the middle of the night that was the size of a football. She was staggering about in a garden near to where I lived in West Lothian and she didn't look well.

I took her home overnight, then brought her in to work with me the next again morning (to everyone's horror) and kept her safe until the SSPCA arrived. She'd been hit by a car and had a bleed on the brain and sadly didn't make it. So if I can help save one hedgehog with this article, then I'll be content.

Now, Mr Hayley cuts the grass the old-fashioned way so I'm not overly familiar with robotic devices that keep your garden trimmed whilst you sit on your bum, but research published this week shows how hedgehogs face huge horrors from these automated mowers.

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After reading about the dangers to hedgehogs and wildlife, I thought I'd share my research. I totally get that these mowers must seem attractive but how do those who we share our garden with feel about them?

When most wildlife come in to contact with a threat, they will run/fly away however, the hedgehog... they'll roll up in a ball and freeze.

After I read about Dr Sophie Lund Rasmussen, an ecologist and hedgehog researcher, speaking up about images she had seen of hedgehogs that had been injured by these robotic mowers, I thought I'd share her findings.

Sophie did an investigation with dead hedgehogs from a rescue centre and it showed that none of the automatic mowers tested could detect hedgehogs until they bumped into them, and none were able to detect the presence of dependent juvenile hedgehogs (weighing less than 200g).

What if it was a child's foot, or a small bird?

In short, if you're a hedgehog and meet with such a device, then it's not good news. So no, I'm not a fan.

Also, all robotic lawn mowers tested by Sophie had to physically interact with the hedgehog to detect them instead of being able to stop and change direction.

I'd even offer up my services to come cut your grass myself instead of you using one of these things. The other issue I have with them, as well as killing hedgehogs, is that if we keep going automated, we'll lose all ability to do anything for ourselves soon and when you take away the human touch in life, that's when I think we start losing what it's all about.

Our gardens are wonderful places, as are all the species that make up the garden eco-system, so we really should be mindful of them and do our best not to do them harm

So if you're thinking of getting yourself a remote-control robotic lawn mower, please just think about it first, and if you're using one already give your garden a wee scan for Mr and Mrs Hedgehog who share a space with you out the back, because if you can't be assed to cut your own grass it's the least you can do for the prickly pawed family.

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