Robot lawnmowers a threat to Swiss hedgehogs

Robot lawnmowers a threat to Swiss hedgehogs
Young animals are at the greatest risk. Photo: Depositphotos
The machines have become a feature of Swiss gardens in recent years but they are not without their dangers.

“More and more hedgehogs are being scalped by robot lawnmowers, while baby hedgehogs are being completely minced up,” Liliane Männlein with the hedgehog protection group Verein Pro Igel in eastern Switzerland told the news portal 20 Minuten.

The problem is the machines cannot sense small objects and animals. To make matters worse, young hedgehogs don’t run away from the lawnmowers but roll up into a ball.

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Adolescent hedgehogs are at greatest risk: while the species is generally nocturnal, this group is active during the day when many robot lawnmowers are operational.

The most dangerous models

To find out which robot lawnmowers posed the greatest risk to hedgehogs, Verein Pro Igel used an apple as a dummy animal. Their finding was the machines with ground clearance of 4.5 centimetres or more were the most dangerous.

In those cases, the apples were “chewed up”, the organisation said.

But help may be on the way. Bernhard Bader with the organisation has been invited to visit Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna to talk to engineers about a possible solution.

Verein Pro Igel also notes lawn trimmers are also dangerous and that people should check in the bushes and undergrowth before using those machines to check no animals are hiding there.

But roads remain the biggest danger for hedgehogs in Switzerland with thousands of the animals being run over every year, according to the hedgehog group.