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The Hedgehog Year. All About Hedgehogs in Your Garden

By

12th September 2013

Hedgehogs are a native of the UK and our only mammal covered in spines. They can be found in gardens across most parts of the country but have sadly suffered from a declining population for many years. They are however, easy to help and knowing a little more about hedgehogs and their lifestyle makes it easy to create a hedgehog friendly garden.

Hedgehog Hibernating in Hedgehog HouseJanuary…

During January most hedgehogs should be hibernating and although they may wake for short periods of time during their hibernation, it is unlikely that they will choose to move unless they have been disturbed or the weather has turned extremely mild.
Hedgehogs are inactive

Hedgehog Sleeping in leavesFebruary…

Much the same as January with the hogs remaining in their respective hibernacula as their natural food is still unavailable to them – should you see a hedgehog out and about during February, especially during the day, it’s highly likely to be in need of assistance.
Hedgehogs are mainly inactive

Hedgehogs are about to start appearing in gardensMarch…

Hedgehogs will now be starting to emerge from hibernation having potentially lost 1/3 of their body weight during their rest. Extremely thirsty and hungry, food and water are the priorities. With their natural food still scarce due to the slowly rising temperatures – now is the time to provide food and fresh water of an evening to help them prepare for the breeding season.
Hedgehogs emerge hungry and thirsty

Hedgehog Food can be put out in the garden nowApril…

The majority – if not all of the hedgehogs are now active and still building up the body fat lost over the winter. They will be scouting for suitable nesting sites (as well as potential mates) and we can continue to help them by providing supplementary foods as well as artificial habitats where a more natural option is unavailable.
Hedgehogs highly active in the garden

Hedgehogs start mating and are fully active in gardensMay…

The mating season now begins in earnest. If you hear loud snuffling and grunting noises at night in the garden, it may be hedgehogs mating. The male circles round the female, sometimes for hours, trying to persuade her to mate. After mating, the male leaves, taking no part in rearing the young.
Hedgehogs actively looking for mates

Hedgehog are about to start having Young HogletsJune…

About four weeks after getting pregnant, the female gives birth to a litter of up to 6 or 7 hoglets, and whilst they are too small to leave the nest, Mum goes out foraging of an evening and returning to feed her young.
Height of hedgehog breeding season

Hedgehog with babies

July…

Once the young hedgehogs reach three to four weeks old they begin to join their mother on her foraging trips, quickly learning what is good to eat but still returning to the nest to take their mother’s milk as well.
First hedgehog young emerging

Out and about in gardens young Hedgehogs become IndependantAugust…

Now the youngsters become independent of their mother and wander off on their own adventures. As hedgehogs live solitary lives, they are unlikely to encounter their siblings again.
Peak in number of road kills as independent young seek new gardens

About hedgehogs in the garden and their predators September…

Mature females may have mated for a second time and thus repeating the events of the last couple of months, however, with their natural diet becoming scarcer in the autumn, late litters will struggle to gain the fat reserves necessary for hibernation and may require human intervention for survival.
The month autumn orphans may start to appear

Autumn Orphan Hedgehogs can be easily found in gardensOctober…

As the colder weather takes hold, mature hedgehogs will continue to feed as much as possible and begin building their nests in preparation for their winter hibernation.
The need to gain weight and feeding is at its peak

Hedgehogs often hibernation in gardensNovember – December

Most hedgehogs will have begun to hibernate during November and will normally remain in this state until March of the following year.
During mild winters hedgehogs may remain active late into December

Note:
With changes in weather noticeable in recent years, many wild animals naturally adjust their behaviour accordingly. delaying hibernation or breeding to the rhythm of the seasons.


Related Internet Links:
British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Hedgehog Street
Peoples Trust for Endangered Species

Ark Wildlife is not responsibe for the content of external websites


  1. Wendy says:

    I have discovered some hedgehogs under my summerhouse. I am concerned as my dog is going mad barking around the summerhouse. She cannot get at them. I have started to feed them but I am keen to get them moved. Any suggestions?

    1. Ark Wildlife says:

      Hi Wendy
      It is highly likely the hedgehog under your summerhouse is a female and has just had a litter. This may also be the cause of excitement in your dog. You must not move an active hedgehog nest but please do keep feeding them. The mother will naturally look for a new nest site and move her young if your dog disturbs them, so leave it to her good judgement. Once the hoglets grow a little, your dog will probably loose interest anyway, but a biscuit and a game to distract it in the meantime will be the kindest action. 😊

  2. Juliette Pearce says:

    We have many hedgehogs in our garden and feed them every night,just heard two mating,in our border,we also feed 3 foxs, so privileged
    😊😊

  3. Alison C says:

    Today I was sitting in the garden and heard a sound similar to the mating grunts coming from under our shed – I have never heard our hedgehogs during the day before so set up the camera to see if it is actually hogs under there, should I be concerned? I feed and water regularly. Thanks

  4. Hayley Ryall says:

    We have recently discovered a hedgehog that keeps coming out in the afternoon around 4ish we have been feeding her and she has returned 6 days in a row now. Seems very hungry 😂😂 loves the cat food (chicken gravy …..Of course she like the expensive stuff) I bought her a hedgehog house and some bedding and popped it under the hedge where she appears every day and she has moved in straight away, and covered the entrance with all the bedding, Am I doing the right thing? She seems very happy and loves all the food 😊

  5. Shelley Noyce says:

    We love watching our spiky visitors, catch them in camera as well. Would be lovely if we see babies as well and keep our fingers crossed. Thanks for all this information really helpful and informative. Not sure if we have a nest as normally travel under the fence.

  6. Jan Jackson says:

    I love my hedgehog visitors I could sit and watch them all night . Mum has started to bring 1 goblet on her trips . Baby sits in middle of food whilst mum makes grunting sounds around the offspring is the grunting normal ?

    1. Ark Wildlife says:

      Hi Jan
      Hedgehogs are one of the noisiest animals for their size! Snuffling, grunting and even screaming at times. The police have been called out more than once, only to find an amorous hedgehog at the scene rather than some terrible offence being committed!

  7. Grandad Garrish says:

    I have up to three hedghogs in my garden. I have been feeding them on hedghog food for a few months now. The first one arrives at dusk, and starts feeding. The second arrives about an hour later, stays for about an hour and disappears. By using a wildlife camera I can follow them as they feed. Just occasionally all three are present and feeding for a few minutes. They do not feed constantly, but pop out of a hedge, feed, and return to the hedge. Interestingly the two i see regularly use a different part of the hedge. My garden is also invaded by cats at various times of the night, but I rarely see hadghogs and cats at the same time. Would cats eat baby hoglets? Living near the coast seagulls have started to eat any residual food in the mornings

    1. Ark Wildlife says:

      Hi Gandad
      How lovely to have and see three regular hedgehogs visiting. Cats are not a danger to hedgehogs generally. A well fed cat won't risk a spike on the nose from an angry mother hedgehog! The babies spines appear shortly after birth and they are well protected before they leave the nest.

  8. Anne says:

    Hi, we have a hedgehog that has moved in to a space inside a metal box in our garage . we think she might be nesting as we left some hay for her and she has dragged that in . we are providing food and water . worried it might get too hot in their though if the weather warms up . as it’s by the glass/ green house end against a wall .

    1. Ark Wildlife says:

      Hi Anne
      How exciting to have a hedgehog nesting in your garden! Don't worry about the heat, the mother will move her litter to a cooler location if needed. Hedghogs will often relocate a nest once or twice bfore the hoglets are ready to leave. Just keep feeding them and provide plenty of fresh water, you never know, you may even be the first to see the new family on their first foraging outing.

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