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Animals Living in Hedges

This article offers a survey of animals and plants living in hedges. Hedges are often also called scrub. They help to protect animals and plants and increase the diversity of species. A hedge consists of bigger and smaller scrubs (such as elder, hazel, blackthorn), several plants (such as the stinging nettle, dandelion), flowers and even trees (such as birch, beech, rowan tree). Next to hedges you will find forests and meadows.

Brown Hare European Hare - Photo: Richard Guijt Photography/Shutterstock

Hedge Fact File

Species living in hedges:

ca. 900-1,500 species

A hedge provides animals with:

  • places for nesting and breeding
  • protection against the weather and animals of prey
  • food
  • ambush for animals of prey

The hedge provides the environment with:

  • wind protection and visual cover
  • protection of the soil and against avalanches
  • climate protection, „air filter“
  • oxygen production
  • fertile soil

Hedges Are Divided Into Three Sections

The hedge offers three zones as living enviroments: fringe, shell und core. Yet, the animals in the hedge cannot be strictly attributed to one zone or another. For instance they use one zone for breeding and another one to gather food – or even leave the hedge occasionally. You can find the following animals in the proximity of hedges:

164 feet (50 meters): ant, ground beetle, red-backed shrike
492 feet (150 meters): mouse weasel, yellowhammer, common toad
656 feet (200 meters): shrew mouse
820 feet (250 meters): hedgehog
984 feet (300 meters): ermine
3,280 feet (1,000 meters): beech marten, fox

1. Fringe Zone

The fringe zone of the hedge contains grasses, flowers and plants. Songbirds such as the red-backed shrike are hunting for beetles, crickets and mice there. Linnets from the family of finches feed on grass and flower seeds. The size of the zone depends on the available space – if it is adjacent to a cultivated field, the fringe zone usually tends to be rather narrow.

2. Shell Zone

Situated between the fringe and the core zone, the shell zone is vegetated with small and medium-sized shrubs. Birds build their nests there to breed.

3. Core Zone

The core zone of the hedge is vegetated with trees and shrubs. There are only a few trees, but many shrubs higher than 16.4 feet (5 meters).

Zones in a hedge Zones in a hedge - Illustration: Silke/tierchenwelt.de

Animal Species Living in Hedges

Hazel Dormouse Hazel Dormouse - Photo: Angyalosi Beata/Shutterstock

Interesting Facts on Hedges

Hedges are as diverse as the plants and animals living in them. There are several types:

  • low hedges: low shrubs up to 6.5-9.8 feet (2-3 meters) high
  • high hedges: containing bushes and shrubs up to 16.4 feet (5 meters) high
  • tree hedges: containing trees
  • grassland hedges: planted hedge

Did You Know?

An enclosure (German: “Hag”) is surrounded by hedges. German village names containing “hagen” or “hag” indicate that there once were many hedges in the area.

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