Unfortunately, a fair bit, here in New Zealand. In addition to eating pests, they also feast on ground nesting bird eggs and chicks, skinks, and many native and endangered invertebrates.
And they’re more common in New Zealand than they are anywhere in their native habitat.
And I think they’re more common in our yard than anywhere else in New Zealand.
Now that the days are getting shorter, I regularly step on them in the dark when I’m out milking and feeding the animals. I certainly wouldn’t walk barefoot through the yard at night here.
They snuffle around the flower beds, snorting and grunting, oblivious to anything non-edible. They spread compost all over the yard.
They also apparently love cucumbers—last year I had to trap one out of the garden after it managed to squeeze in through a hole in the rabbit fencing. It took a bite out of each cucumber—obviously trying to find the perfect one.
They like the apples and peanut butter I bait the possum traps with, and though I don’t aim to kill them, I will admit that I’m not upset when I catch a hedgehog instead of a possum (my trapping seems to have no effect whatsoever on the population of either pest, anyway…). They snatch the eggs of the spur-winged plovers that nest unsuccessfully every year in our paddock, and I’d much prefer plover chicks to hedgehogs in the yard.
It still doesn’t stop me from smiling when I see one trundling along through the grass.
They are adorable after all…