Scrapping over scraps: Animals clash over leftover food in urban gardens
Badgers, hedgehogs, foxes and cats are involved in aggressive and submissive behaviours as they go head to head for leftover food, a study has revealed.
Researchers analysed hundreds of videos - recorded by the public - to investigate interactions within and between different animal species.
They found that food leftover in gardens can provide benefits for wild animals - while also drawing in competitors and predators close together.
The creatures found in these gardens displayed aggressive behaviours, such as, lunging, biting, striking out.
The study, conducted by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Brighton, revealed that badgers dominated other species in the garden hierarchy.
And as for hedgehogs, they seemed to have had more clashes with other animals.
Researchers found there was more aggressive and submissive behaviour among animals than neutral interactions and creatures were also more likely to confront different species from their own.
From 316 instances where animals were spotted together, 175 of those interactions ended in confrontation between the species.
Professor Dawn Scott, lead researcher from Nottingham Trent University's School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, said the study is the first "to quantify interactions between urban mammal communities in this way and to identify hierarchical relationships between wild and domestic mammals in urban gardens".
"We need to better understand interactions between urban animals and the potential effects of providing food in this way, to ensure any potential risks are minimised," she added.
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The study showed that cats and foxes disliked one another, with more than 77% of their interactions, ending in aggressions - but surprisingly cats dominated foxes.
However, hedgehogs speedily outcompeted cats to get their hands on the garden goods.
This could be because domestic cats are not as physically or behaviourally well adapted to defend themselves against hedgehog spines as wild predators, researchers suggested.
In the contest for who got to the food the quickest, badgers took the lead - but they were the least competitive with one another.
The analysis found that hedgehogs were found to be the most combative - with more than half of their interactions leading to a form of aggression.
This included a move dubbed the "barge and roll" by the researchers, whereby one hedgehog attacks another by running at it, causing the victim to roll up before being pushed away.
The researchers suggested the move was used to move rivals away from food.
In one instance an animal was pushed down a flight of concrete, while another was pushed into water.
Published in the journal Animals, the study also involved researchers from the University of Sussex and the Spanish National Research Council.