Profiles

Here we present some profiles of common roadkilled animal species. Please help! If you have additional information regarding roadkilled animal species or pictures, please send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We want to extend the profiles step by step.

Pine Marten

Mammal > Marten > Pine marten. The pine marten is considered to avoid humans and therefore prefers large closed forests.

How to identify a roadkilled pine marten?

Differences pine marten vs. stone marten:

  •      Nose is dark. The nose of the stone marten is flesh-colored.
  •      Throat-patch is yellow to yellow-red, and rounded on the bottom. Stone martens have a white throat patch and the bottom deeply forked (no secure identification feature).
  •      Pine marten: underside of the paws are hairy (bales covered). Stone marten: bales are visible.
  •      The pine marten is considered to avoid humans and therefore prefers large closed forests.
  •      The stone marten is considered typical synanthropic therefore occurs in villages and big cities.

Why pine martens are killed on roads?

Pine martens are crepuscular and nocturnal, so with the dark coat they are very hard to see on the road. Pine martens compared to stone martens are rarely run over as they avoid people and occur mainly in large forests and there in the treetops.

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Stone Marten

Mammal > Marten > Stone marten. The stone marten is considered typical synanthropic therefore occurs in villages and big cities.

How to identify a roadkilled stone marten?

Differences pine marten vs. stone marten:

  • Nose is flesh-colored. The nose of the pine marten is dark.
  • Throat-patch is white and the bottom deeply forked. Pine martens have a yellow to yellow-red throat patch and the bottom is rounded (no secure identification feature).
  • Stone marten: bales are visible. Pine marten: underside of the paws are hairy (bales covered). 
  • The stone marten is considered typical synanthropic therefore occurs in villages and big cities.
  • The pine marten is considered to avoid humans and therefore prefers large closed forests.

Why stone martens are killed on roads?

Stone martens are mainly nocturnal and move, in contrast to the pine marten, preferably on the ground. Stone martens are known that they like to climb in engine compartments of cars and damage cables or hoses. Therefore, and because they also like to stay in attics or barns, stone martens are often seen near streets.

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Grass Snake

Reptile > Snake > Grass Snake. The grass snake has yellowish white to orange, crescent-shaped spots on the back of the head.

How to identify a roadkilled grass snake?

Snakes in general:

Snakes look from afar like a tube or branch, which is located on the road. Only when you get closer, you realize that it is an animal. Snakes have an elongated body, limbs can not be identified. You often do not notice the injury on the roadkilled snake and the animal looks as if it is still alive. This is because when run over they suffer severe internal injuries, but outwardly often remain completely intact. Snakes can be confused only with blindworms in Austria. Blindworms are very difficult to distinguish from snakes when run over. Snakes have intergrown, immovable and transparent eyelids. Snakes have therefore always closed eyelids. However blindworms have movable eyelids. Blindworms can open and shut their eyelids. Moreover blindworms have unlike snakes ear openings.

Grass snakes in particular:
The grass snake has yellowish white to orange, crescent-shaped spots on the back of the head. The head is clearly separated from the trunk. The pupils are round.

Why grass snakes are killed on roads?

Snakes are reptiles. All reptiles are unable to maintain their body temperature through metabolic heat at a constant level, but are dependent on external supply of heat. The warming of the body is of vital importance, since all functions are temperature dependent. Asphalt roads that become very hot in the sun are therefore particularly popular to refuel heat in reptiles. If they are only warmed briefly on the road and not yet completly heated, they can only escape slowly. Snakes are also found on bike paths. When you ride the bike and notice that the branch in front of you is a snake, actually, it is often too late. Then an avoidance maneuver is usually no longer possible.

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Green Toad

Amphibian > Anuran > Green Toad. Green toads are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal. The green toad is bright with greenish spots on top.

How to identify a roadkilled green toad?

Frogs generally:
There are two ways how frogs are killed on roads. On the one hand they can be rolled over directly from a tire, on the other hand they can be killed by the vacuum under the car. An avoidance maneuver in which one takes the frog between the tires is usually not useful, as speeds above 30 km / h can lead to the death of frogs.

For this reason you will not find plate frogs on roads usually, but veritable burst ones. Sometimes frogs are sitting completely motionless on the street. These are often not dead, but jump off when you touch them. Please don't enter living animals in the database.

Frogs can be identified by:

  • Bare skin (no fur or feathers visible)    
  • No scales apparent
  • No tail

If these three criteria are met, you can enter a frog in the database.

Green toad in particular:
Green toads are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal. The green toad is bright with greenish spots on top, these characteristics usually remain visible even when the carcasses are dried.

Why frogs are killed on roads?

As spring begins, for many amphibians its time to migrate. They leave their wintering grounds and start the often difficult journey to their spawning grounds. But why migrate these animals at all?

In evolution amphibians represent the transition from water living creatures to terrestrial creatures. They can move freely in the countryside, but are bound to standing or slow moving water bodies (except the Alpine salamander) for their propagation. Amphibians generally come back to the water, where they have lived as a larva. At these waters males and females meet for mating and spawning. The "egg" of amphibians are called spawn. After successful spawning, most amphibians keep ashore in search of food. In fall when the temperature drops under a species specific limit, the amphibians move back into their wintering grounds, dig themselves in, or hide under stones or dead wood.

Amphibians winter either near their spawning grounds such as the yellow-bellied toad and European tree frog, or 1-3km away like the grass frog and the common toad or even up to 10km away, such as the green toad. The further away is their spawning grounds from the wintering grounds, the higher of course is also the probability that they have to cross a road during their migration.

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Ground Squirrel

Mammal > Ground Squirrel. Ground squirrels are colored brown or gray on the top and white underside. The tail is relatively short, as the legs.

How to identify a roadkilled European ground squirrel?

Ground squirrels are colored brown or gray on the top and white underside. The tail is relatively short, as are the legs. The head has a typical squirrel shape and often you can see the large incisors. The environment in which the run-over animal is discovered, can give an indication to its species. The habitat of the European ground squirrel is all kinds of open habitats, so steppes, semi-deserts, tundra, rocky land and barren mountain ranges. Forest edges and bushy areas are also accepted, but ground squirrels are missing in dense forests. Likelihood of confusion is given with hamsters (yellow-brown on the top, dark underside, several white spots on the cheek and behind the front legs). However, hamsters are easy to distinguish from ground squirrels by their typical coat patterns. If the carcass is already lying for a longer time and the coat is bleached, one can distinguish a ground squirrel by its relatively bushy tail from the European hamster.

Why European ground squirrels are killed on roads?

Ground squirrels occur in vineyards, farmland, fallow land, hay meadows and dry grasslands. Because these areas are sometimes in close proximity to busy roads, ground squirrels are often run over. Through the typical coat color, the ground squirrels are very difficult to detect in the dry grass on the roadside.

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European Badger

Mammal > Marten > Badger. Badgers are easy to identify by their characteristic coat patterns.

How to identify a roadkilled European badger?

Badgers are easy to identify by their characteristic coat patterns. Badgers have a black and white drawn head. From the corners of its mouth, the black stripes first run straight up and on both sides of the snout to the back. These stripes widen above the eyes and the white-rimmed ears to the neck, where they are brighter and extend into the silvery gray of the top and the flanks.

In addition, badgers can be identified by the trunk-like snout and rich grave paws. The forefeet also have long down curved claws.

The confusion with other species is hardy given.

Why badgers are killed on roads?

Badgers are mainly nocturnal and often inhabit burrows near settlements or in settlements themselves. Badgers do not feed, like other marten species, just on meat (earthworms, insects and sometimes small mammals), but also on plants (grain and crops of all kinds, roots, fruit, berries and many more). Because of this broad food spectrum badgers are often found in gardens and fields. The proximity to the people inevitably leads to crossings of roads in the dark.

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Hamster

Mammal > Small Mammal > Hamster. Hamster are relatively easy to identify by the typical coat color.

How to identify roadkilled hamster?

Hamsters are relatively easy to identify by the typical coat color. They usually have a yellow-brown top and a dark, almost black underside. On the flanks, on the cheek, before and behind the front legs are several white spots. The area around the muzzle and around the eyes is reddish brown, the feet and the tip of the nose are white. They have well-developed cheek pouches, the feet are provided with wide and well-developed claws. They have a 4-6cm long, almost hairless tail.
Most likely, they can be confused with the European ground squirrel. If the coat color is no help, then the bushy tail of the ground squirrel compared to the almost hairless tail of the hamster serves as a simple differentiator.

Why hamster are killed on roads?

Hamsters inhabit mainly cultivated fields and their border areas, through which busy roads cut sometimes. They are crepuscular and nocturnal and are therefore often seen too late on roads when driving. They stand up when they can no longer flee. The dark belly coloration should look like the mouth of a predator, with the white paws as canines.

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Cat

Mammal > Cat. Characteristics that often remain recognizable even with heavily damaged carcasses, are paws, head and coat color.

How to identify a roadkilled cat?

In general cats are easy to identify. Characteristics that often remain recognizable even with heavily damaged carcasses, are paws, head and coat color. With the exception of wildcats there are no animals in our latitudes that could be easily confused with cats.
Wildcats, however, are difficult to distinguish from gray-tabby domestic cats. The most important features are shown in the chart below. Should you find a gray tabby cat and suspect it could be a wildcat, we ask you to document the spot exactly - our partners from Projekt Wildkatze sift the project roadkill database for wildcat entries to find out whether any wildcats are affected.

engl Unterscheidungsmerkmale Grafik

Why cats are killed on roads?

As pets cats share their habitat with humans, therefore exposure to cars is very high. Especially in rural areas and in the peripheral areas of cities, it is common that cats can roam freely. Cats, especially un-neutered cats, often move several kilometers away from their home and cross many roads - often at dusk or night, where cats are even harder to detect.
Wildcats have much larger territories, in females territories have an area between 300 and 600 hectares, in males between 1000 and 3000 hectares in size. The wildcat preferres habitat boundaries between forest and open countryside - open countryside exists in Austria almost exclusively where farming takes place. Therefore a proximity to the people and thus also to roads is present in the habitat of the wildcat.

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Hedgehog

Mammal > Hedgehog. Hedgehogs can be clearly identified by their spines. Even if the dead hedgehog is lying on the street for a long time, the spines are still clear to see.

How to identify a roadkilled hedgehog?

Hedgehogs can be clearly identified by their spines. Even if the dead hedgehog is lying on the street for a long time, has dried up and has often been run over, the spines are still clear to see.

Why hedgehogs are killed on roads?

In late spring hedgehogs leave their wintering grounds. Males leave the wintering grounds about 3-4 weeks before the females and embark on the search for food and later for mating partners. The mating season begins in late spring (April / May) and ends in September. Hedgehogs are basically loners, only to mate and in the breeding season they can be observed in company. Unlike many other mammals, hedgehogs defend no territorial boundaries. Depending on food availability and potential mating partners, hedgehogs move more or less far away. In order to find enough food, hedgehogs need an area of ​​up to 40 ha. If a high food supply prevails, as in gardens or arable land, the area may also decrease to 5 ha. Basically, males need about twice as much area as females.
In this area requirement it is no surprise that hedgehogs often need to cross a road. As it is well known, hedgehogs are not among the fastest animals (they move at an average speed of 2 m / min.) and therefore need very long to cross a street. Furthermore, they do not have a shortening reaction; on the contrary, hedgehogs put at risk roll up and protect themselves with their spines. Normally a very successful defense strategy, against cars unfortunately ineffective, if not counterproductive, which is reflected in the number of roadkilled hedgehogs on our map.

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Red Fox

Mammal > Fox. Foxes belong to the family of dogs and are therefore often difficult to distinguish from dogs.

How to identify a roadkilled red fox?

Foxes belong to the family of dogs and are therefore often difficult to distinguish from dogs. However, roadkilled dogs are very rare in contrast to the high number of accidents with foxes. The red fox has a red coat on the top and a white coat at the bottom. Wherein the hue is very variable and depends on the area of distribution. The lower parts of the legs and the back sides of the ears are black. Even if the accident is long ago, most of the bushy tail remains.

Why are red foxes killed on roads?

From September to November young male foxes leave the parental territory, therefore it comes to a number of accidents just because of the frequent crossing of roads. In addition, the red fox has no special requirements to its habitat. Forests, grasslands, farmlands and increasingly residential areas are suitable habitats for the red fox. Foxes are probably in most cities present, but not everywhere in high densities. The city offers for foxes:

  •  Areas without human interference (night: Cemeteries, Parks)
  •  Microscale structures
  •  Good food supply: compost pile, table scraps, fruits, insects, mice, rats
  •  Secure retreat (sheds, Woodpile)
  •  No large-scale hunting

Due to this proximity to human settlements or the use of lands for hunting, it consistently comes to encounters between human and fox.

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Hare

Mammal > Hare. The ears and the hind legs usually remain in often run over or longer lying animals and serve as a good identifying feature.

How to identify a roadkilled hare?

Hares are about 50 cm long. The coat color is variable yellowish gray, ocher-brown or reddish-brown with yellow shades and black speckled. The underside is creamy white. The ears are pale gray and show at the top a black, roughly triangular spot. The tail is black on the upper side and white on the lower side. In winter coat, the sides of the head, including the base of the ears are white and the hips are grayish.

Hares are thrown because of their size, either at the side or the middle of the road and are often run over several times. Identifying features are the size, coat color, the long ears and hind legs. The ears and the hind legs usually remain in often run over or longer lying animals and serve as a good identifying feature.

Why are hares killed on roads?

The main reason for the high number of roadkilled hares is probably the strong fragmentation of their habitat. In Lower Austria and Burgenland roads often lead along fields and wasteland, the main habitat of hares. Hares are very active, therefore often change roadsides and are usually active at dawn. The hare is a very fast animal, in the run he can reach speeds up to 70 km / h. If the hare tries to cross a road, it can appear suddenly in front of a vehicle that no time for a breaking maneuver remains. In addition hares try to escape their pursuers by running zigzag, a very successful strategy in the animal kingdom, but on the road it proves to be counterproductive. 

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Red Squirrel

Mammal > Squirrel. You can see the bushy tail of the squirrel very good even if the carcass is badly destroyed.

How to identify a roadkilled red squirrel?

You can see the bushy tail of the squirrel very good even if the carcass is badly destroyed. The characteristic coat colors (light red / brown to brown black, the undersideis always clear white or cream) are also a good feature which is largely maintained. The typical ear-tufts can also serve to identify, but are only part of the winter fur and are completely absent during the summer months.
The likelihood of confounding squirrels with dormice (fat dormouse, hazel dormouse) is given. Although dormice, however, are much smaller and have less bushy tails.

Why are red squirrels killed on roads?

The original habitat of squirrels in our latitudes are deciduous and mixed forests. As a strong synanthropic species, they are often found in gardens and parks. Due to their proximity to people, squirrels are increasingly exposed to busy roads, which increases the vulnerability to be roadkill victims. Squirrels are agile and fast climbers, but on the ground they are just hopping, which makes them relatively slow go. The home range of squirrels varies depending of distribution and can be up to 50 ha, whereupon males usually are more active than females. Preferably, squirrels move further over treetops. On roads, there is often no treetops - treetops contact for safety reasons. Therefore, squirrels have no possibility to "bridge" the gap over a road, but have to move on the ground. Remedy could be a so-called "squirrel rope", which is stretched from tree to tree across the road.

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