It seems the more we look, the more we find when it comes to the impacts of invasive pests. European hedgehogs are no exception. Once thought to provide a service by preying on garden pests such as slugs and snails, hedgehogs are now known to also prey on a wide variety of native species, including invertebrates, lizards, and the eggs and chicks of a range of native birds. We have learnt this by sorting through the remains of prey in their droppings and stomachs.

For example, 21% of hedgehog guts (each reflecting a single night’s feeding) from Macraes Flat, north Otago, contained native skink remains; a single hedgehog dropping from near Alexandra contained 10 McCann’s skink feet; and two separate studies have shown that female hedgehogs are three times more likely than males to have eaten native lizards. Rare native invertebrates are also eaten widely, and a single hedgehog gut from the central South Island was found to contain 283 wētā legs!

Diet composition is one thing, but the real impacts on native species are often more difficult to measure. Research over the past 15 years has begun to clarify the picture.

For more information read the full article from Predator Free NZ