A Nottingham study claims that animals engage in conflict over garden food


According to a study, food left in British gardens is causing fights and standoffs among cats, hedgehogs, foxes, and badgers.

Videos of interactions between species were analyzed by two universities.

They discovered that while food left by people in urban gardens may benefit animals, it may also attract rivals and predators.

The study's collaborator, Nottingham Trent University (NTU), emphasized the significance of better understanding urban animals.

The university discovered that animals exhibited a variety of aggressive behaviors, including lunging, biting, and striking out. The university collaborated on the study with the University of Brighton.

A hedgehog was once forced into some water.

A fox
When the animals clashed, cats tended to rule over foxes.

According to the study, hedgehogs and badgers clashed more frequently than was predicted while badgers tended to dominate other species in the garden hierarchy.

The video showed more submissive and aggressive animal behavior than neutral interactions.

175 of the 316 times that animals were seen together and engaged in conflict.

Additionally, scientists discovered that creatures were more likely to face off against other species than their own.

With 77 percent of encounters between cats and foxes evoking some sort of aggressive or defensive response, cats appeared to hold a particular grudge against foxes.

Hedgehogs surprised the research team by outperforming cats in the race for food. Badgers were stronger than all other species.

They speculate that this might be the case because domestic cats are not as well suited, either physically or behaviorally, to defend themselves against hedgehog spines as predators in the wild.

Hedgehogs were also discovered to be the most aggressive toward one another, with more than half (55%) of their interactions resulting in aggression of some kind.

The researchers called one of these attacks the "barge and roll," in which one hedgehog runs at another, causing the target to roll up before being pushed away by the attacker.

Prof. Dawn Scott, the principal investigator from the School of Animal, Rural, and Environmental Sciences at NTU, stated: "Food provided by people may help wild animals, but it may also attract animals together that could compete, hurt, or prey upon one another.

"Interactions between garden mammals can have a variety of negative effects, including the escalation of hostility between competing species.

Increased competition may also make it harder for inferior species or individuals to access resources, which could result in harm or death.

"In order to minimize any potential risks, we need to better understand how urban animals interact with one another and the effects of providing food in this way.

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