Spring is a vulnerable time for hedgehogs, they may have survived the winter but night time temperatures are still prone to being cold, there may not be much food about and by day, humans are cleaning out and tidying up their gardens.
What are our hedgehogs doing now?
- Hedgehogs are waking from their hibernation. They will be hungry and thirsty. You can support feed them, please see Helping Hedgehogs Struggling hedgehogs may be out in the day, in which case contact your local rescue for advice and see our Emergency Care page.
- Hedgehogs are on the move. And they will need to build a new nest. Male hedgehogs, in particular, will be thinking of mating and will walk miles every night looking for females. Hedgehogs to not pair or mate for life. The female gives birth and rears her hoglets by herself.
How can I help hedgehogs?
- Replace old nesting material in empty or unused nest boxes. If you don’t already have one, considering making or buying one. Please see here: Nest Boxes
- Take care when gardening, especially using strimmers, garden forks and netting*. Late spring is the start of the hoglet season – successful reproduction depends on safe, dry nesting places.
*Netting can cause some particularly nasty wounds for hedgehogs that will fight to escape and cause deep flesh wounds which left untreated can cause a long and painful death. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) recommends keeping netting a foot off the floor.
The BHPS have a leaflet which you can read here, ‘Gardening with Hedgehogs’ which is very useful, Gardening with Hedgehogs
Summer is a time where Hedgehogs require lots of fresh water; hoglets start venturing out with mum.
Autumn and winter.
- gaining weight for the winter
- raising and perhaps leaving late born litters
- choosing a site and building a hibernaculum
Hedgehogs are busy trying to put on enough weight to safely survive hibernation. For that they need to be 650g. There is no set date for hibernation, although it’s expected end of October/early November. It’s weather dependent more than time of year, some parts of south-east Wales are colder than others. The Valleys differ from that of lower laying levels near Caldicot and Chepstow, for example.
- leaving autumn leaves, or piling leaves in a wild corner of the garden
- burning using an incinerator (if you’re burning in your garden)
- leaving down fresh water at ground level
- building a feeding station – see our page on Feeding Stations Hedgehogs wake up periodically for food during the winter and go back and hibernate once again.
What problems do hedgehogs face at this time of year?
- This is the time for Autumn Juveniles – young hedgehogs, who have been born late in the year and mum has had to leave as the temperatures fall and food becomes more scarce. This leaves many juveniles coming out in search of food, and without support, they won’t make it. These smaller ones need picking up, keeping warm (see our Emergency Care page) and taking to a rescue. Often they have a heavy internal parasite burden which will need treating.
- bonfires – both for bonfire night and gardeners clearing their gardens.
Bonfires are hotels for hedgehogs. Please move your bonfire in its entirety on the day of lighting or don’t build them until the day they are lit. Bonfires and hedgehogs – information from the BHPS.