Hedgehogs on their way

In this project scientists were looking for interested citizens to explore the distribution of hedgehogs in gardens all over Austria.

hedgehogs, gardens, animal traces

The project overview

Area of Science: Natural Sciences
Location: Austria / bordering countries
Used Devices: without PC/Mobile, with PC/Mobile
Equipment of citizen scientists: Camera or smartphone, computer with internet access, corrugated plastic sheet for the tracking tunnel (these plates can be borrowed from BOKU), powder paint (black), cat or dog food as bait

Activities of citizen scientists: observing, analysing, other activities
Suitable for: Youngsters and adults
Project duration: 01.12.2014 - 30.09.2016
Time to join in: 01.04.2016 - 30.09.2016
Expenditure of time: Registering and filling out the questionnaire approx. 15 min., tracking tunnel in garden: five days in a row for approx. 30 min. (starting from April because hedgehogs hibernate), final filling out of the online form approx. 5 min.

Project objective

The project aimed to find out, which factors of garden management, garden structure and the predominating land use in the surroundings were linked to the presence or absence of hedgehogs in gardens. Furthermore, the data was used as a baseline for future assessments of the status of hedgehogs in Austria.

How did citizen scientists participate

Every garden owner or person with access to a garden was able to join the project and detect hedgehogs in gardens by setting up an easy to use hedgehog tracking tunnel. It's a genius, simple and exciting method to prove the presence of nocturnal animals. Hedgehogs become attracted to the tunnel by the bait (cat food) which is laid out in the middle of the tunnel. On both sides of the bait, two strips of masking tape painted with black ink colour (not toxic) are placed. This way every visitor leaves its respective footprints on sheets of paper when leaving the tunnel.

A detailed construction manual can be found on the project website. Data entry occured via internet: after creating an account for data entry, hedgehog citizen scientists had to complete an online form on garden management and structure and were able to upload paper sheets with footprints or photographs of direct observation of hedgehogs.

What happened to the contributions of citizen scientists?

For the first time, Austrian hedgehog citizen scientists were providing data on the distribution of hedgehogs in Austrian gardens. This data was used for developing recommendations for hedgehog friendly garden management. In addition, this data was used as a baseline for future assessments of the status and occurrence of the species in Austria.

Prizes and winners

There was one prize for school classes, one for a youth group and one for a single person. The participant with the most "hedgehog points" in different gardens won. Participation was possible between April and September 2016. The best school class received 1,000 Euro for the class fund. The most dedicated person or youth group supported the project with scientific equipment or open access publication support. More information can be found on the project website.

Participating and supporting institutions


Dr. Silvia Winter

DI Kristina Plenk

Project website: http://igelimgarten.boku.ac.at/

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