Wildlife Conservation at a Garden Level: The Effect of Robotic Lawn Mowers on European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK
Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, DK-9220 Aalborg, Denmark
Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
Fossil and Moclay Museum, Museum Mors, Skarrehagevej 8, DK-7900 Nykøbing Mors, Denmark
Agilent Technologies Denmark ApS, Produktionsvej 42, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Krishna N. Balasubramaniam and Stefano S.K. Kaburu
Received: 5 March 2021
Revised: 11 April 2021
Accepted: 16 April 2021
Published: 21 April 2021
Injured European hedgehogs are frequently admitted to hedgehog rehabilitation centres with different types of cuts and injuries. Although not rigorously quantified, a growing concern is that an increasing number of cases may have been caused by robotic lawn mowers. Research indicates that European hedgehogs are in decline. It is therefore important to identify and investigate the factors responsible for this decline to improve the conservation initiatives directed at this species. Because hedgehogs are increasingly associated with human habitation, it seems likely that numerous individuals will encounter several robotic lawn mowers during their lifetimes. Consequently, this study aimed to describe and quantify the effects of robotic lawn mowers on hedgehogs, and we tested 18 robotic lawn mowers in collision with dead hedgehogs. Some models caused extensive damage to the dead hedgehogs, but there were noteworthy differences in the degree of harm inflicted, with some consistently causing no damage. None of the robotic lawn mowers tested was able to detect the presence of dead, dependent juvenile hedgehogs, and no models could detect the hedgehog cadavers without physical interaction. We therefore encourage future collaboration with the manufacturers of robotic lawn mowers to improve the safety for hedgehogs and other garden wildlife species.