Facts about the Hedgehog
Basic information on how these garden friendly creatures live
Photo: Down the Lane
Where do Hedgehogs live?
Their only more permanent home is where they hibernate through winter.
In the wild this is usually somewhere dry and cozy such as old Log Piles, piles of leaves under Hedgerows or more man made structures such as Compost Heaps (all the more reason to check before forking up or turning over compost through the winter months).
In Spring, Summer and Autumn they will make more temporary nests seldom making anywhere permanent.
They will use the same type of places as Winter but could include stacked bonfires, so be careful there as well.
It is quite normal for them to sleep somewhere different every day and they are not necessarily territorial in the sense of if there's an empty nest made by another Hedgehog and she or he is not already in it, they'll move in for the night.
What do they eat?
They will survive on many things around fields and gardens, mainly Slugs, Snails, Beetles, worms and fallen bird eggs.
Hedgehogs are also known to take baby mice as food. In Autumn any soft about to rot soft fruits are taken.
Should you wish to attract them to your Garden hoping they make your home a winter residence, a bowl of Meat only Cat or Dog Food goes down a treat.
Leaving a bowl out for them in the same place every night will soon send out a signal and you'll find them returning every night.
When they get to know there's a ready made meal waiting for them at your place they will call quite early on after sunset and that will also show you they're nesting quite near by.
Without any treat food they will wander up to a mile or more every night searching for food, even swimming accross Streams to get their daily quota.
Early to mid November through to mid March.
After Hibernation, from early April, the mating season begins but the busy time is more in May when the days and nights are warmer.
A courtship will begin with the male following and circling the female until mating takes place.
Gestation is around 32 days and each litter averages at around five. One in five babies die whilst still in the nest.
Hedgehogs are born with their spines under their skin. They are blind at first but vision comes at 2 weeks.
After five weeks the young ones will leave the nest to fend for themselves.
To see a Hedgehog during the daytime usually spells something is wrong, especially if they do not try to run away.
Should this happen, take it to a local Vet immediately, most treat wild animals free of charge. They can then advise you what to do or where there may be a Sanctuary who can take over any rehabilitation.
You can sometimes find young ones born late in the season close to hibernation time. If they are small the chances of surviving are slim, they haven't built up enough fat for the Winter.
You can also ring the British Hedgehog Preservation Society who can answer any questions and give you details of places to go near your location.
As said, Hedgehogs are in danger of becoming extinct in the UK., they are friendly, helpful creatures who serve a purpose in the wonderful chain of nature.
Their future is in our hands!