Death on quiet wheels: environmentalists warn of robotic lawnmowers

Robotic lawnmowers are convenient for lawn owners. But environmentalists warn of the autonomous lawn mowers. The reasons.

Robotic lawn mowers have long been a thorn in the side of environmentalists. Because robotic lawnmowers keep the lawn permanently short – the lawn area is thus lost for environmental protection and species protection. But robot lawn mowers are also unpopular with many environmentalists for another reason: They endanger hedgehogs, young birds and other small animals.

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Specifically, it is the State Association for Bird Protection LBV that warns that the increased use of robotic lawnmowers or string mowers threatens the small mammals in their way of life. The motorized mowing tools would often inflict serious injuries on the animals. If robotic lawnmowers run after dusk, the nocturnal animals are particularly at risk. “Most robotic lawnmowers do not recognize small animals such as young hedgehogs, young birds, reptiles or amphibians as obstacles. The animals can be run over, mutilated and killed,” warns LBV hedgehog expert Dr. Angelica Nelson. She continues: “Hedgehogs often die in such accidents or from the resulting wounds, which often become infected.”

Animals are regularly mutilated or killed by the supposedly helpful garden machines. “Many robot victims hide and die secretly in hiding or they are disposed of in the garbage can by garden owners. We therefore assume that the number of unreported cases is high,” continues Nelson.

In its warning, the LBV refers to test reports from Stiftung Warentest. In the current test, only one of eight models would protect a lying child’s arm, which was simulated with a wooden stick. “A robotic lawnmower that would run over parts of children’s bodies does not stop at small animals such as young hedgehogs, young birds, slow-worms, lizards, insects and arachnids,” warns the LBV expert. The problem is exacerbated by the protective behavior of hedgehogs: “Since hedgehogs usually do not run away from danger, but curl up into a spiked ball, they are defenseless against the always superior machines and of all animals are particularly affected by the danger.”

Robotic lawnmowers also endanger biodiversity

Apart from that, robot lawn mowers deprive small mammals and many insects of any food source. “In the lawn, which is mowed almost every day by the robotic lawnmower, various types of clover, dandelion, meadow sage and meadow marguerite have no chance of forming flowers or of seeding,” says Angelika Nelson. As a result, the insects that make up a large part of the food for hedgehogs and other wild animals stay away. “The few insects that do get lost on the lawn are often sucked into the robotic lawnmower and shredded. That’s why robotic lawnmowers pose a threat to biodiversity. The use of a robotic lawnmower cannot be combined with a natural garden design,” notes Nelson.

The ecological alternative: only mow green areas once or twice a year. Or at least let the lawn overgrow.

Hedgehog found – what to do?

Anyone who finds an injured animal should take it to a veterinarian who is familiar with wildlife or to a wildlife sanctuary. You can also call the LBV hedgehog phone: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 09174/4775-5001.

Report hedgehog

The LBV would like to find out more about the local garden dweller and is therefore calling on all nature lovers to report their hedgehog observations at

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