Although hedgehogs and moles are iconic animal species, surprisingly little is known about their distribution in Germany. An alliance of several nature conservation organizations is therefore calling on people to report sightings of the small insectivores online from September 15th to 24th. This also applies expressly to dead animals. From now on, the “Germany is looking for hedgehogs and moles” campaign will take place twice a year and will lead to better protection measures for the two animal species.
The hedgehog with its characteristic spiked coat and the digging mole are among the most famous animal species in Germany. And yet hardly anything is known about their distribution.
This is due, among other things, to their shy, nocturnal lifestyle and the fact that the individual animals of a species are very similar in appearance. Therefore, when counting, it is often difficult to tell whether it is the same specimen or not. Another complicating factor with moles is that they are rarely found above ground.
Germany-wide search for moles and hedgehogs
The little data that exists on the populations of moles and hedgehogs suggests that their numbers are continuing to decline. They are probably lacking food because their favorite meal, which contains insects, is also becoming rarer. In addition, the habitat of small mammals is shrinking: monocultures, sealed areas and gardens that are too “tidy” are pushing moles and hedgehogs further and further back. Man-made dangers such as cars, garden tools, electric fences and poison are also often fatal for the animals. In order to find suitable protective measures for hedgehogs and moles, scientists must first find out more about their populations and their regional occurrence.
A new campaign under the title “Germany is looking for hedgehogs and moles” is intended to provide reliable figures on hedgehogs and moles across the board for the first time. From September 15th to 24th, people from all over Germany can report their sightings online Nature watcher portal Report to the nature conservation organization Nabu. To do this, you simply have to take a photo of your encounter with a mole or hedgehog and then upload it. Dead animals should also be explicitly documented, as the action alliance from various organizations has announced.
Tips for sighting
To make the search easier, the organizers have various tips ready. For example, hedgehogs are best encountered after dusk. A flashlight or thermal imaging camera can help with sighting. Since moles prefer to travel underground, they can also be reported using photos of their characteristic vertical mounds.
The organizations behind the campaign – including the German Wildlife Foundation and the German Horticultural Society – hope to use the new data to find out more about the threats to moles and hedgehogs. The Germany-wide sightings could help to identify the specific factors that threaten the small animals depending on the region and to find suitable protective measures. In order to be able to monitor the development of the population in the long term, “Germany is looking for hedgehogs and moles” will from now on take place twice a year, once in May and once in September.
Source: Research Association Berlin eV (FVB), Germany is looking for hedgehogs and moles