Defending Hog House and Food Supply
24th November 2017 at 12:56 pm #8320
Sounds a good idea to clean out the boxes when you are sure there is no one in residence. Apart from anything else, they may have left eggs from some of their little visitors behind.
Last night a (good sized) hoglet decided to make a nest in my (wooden) feeding box. I had put a new cardboard, temporary, division in to deter the cat which I saw getting in there the night before. I was worried the new partition might put the hoglets off, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. Once again a hog has done the unpredictable!
There were a very few leaves in the box to start with, but I saw on the cam the little hog making numerous visits with huge mouthfuls of leaves. Interestingly, there is a nearby box with loads of easily accessible dry leaves in it, but the little hog decided to collect it’s own from the garden. It reinforces my feeling that they prefer to make their own nests. So my feeling remains that it’s best to just put a few leaves in and make sure there are loads of other ones around nearby.
I was also interested in the choice of materials. There were some quite stalky bits included, whereas I would have gone for softer leaves. I should know by now that hogs know best!
Not sure if the little one is planning on hibernating in there, but, unfortunately, I think there is probably some food left in the bowl underneath so hope it doesn’t get too nasty. I look forward to seeing what, if anything, happens tonight. The box entrance is in good view from the house and right opposite the camera (can’t believe my luck), so hopefully it or I will see if anything happens.
I haven’t seen the mature female hog for the last two nights, but haven’t checked all the cam footage for last night yet.24th November 2017 at 9:39 pm #8322
I’ve read that they prefer bigger leaves and that they place them to work like roof tiles. That could explain why they prefer to build themselves.
I might take out leaves from the hibernation place I’ve built and place more outside.
Thanks!25th November 2017 at 12:55 pm #8324
Yes, I read that they like medium sized leaves. Not a very good description – what is a medium sized leaf? I was thinking it meant birch leaf sized (medium in relation to hawthorn), but I suppose that would be small in relation to a horse chestnut or some of the Acers. Most of the leaves the hoglet used, look as if they were from a Weigela shrub, but it may be just because it was quite near. There was also a fair bit of long grass going in.
The hoglet didn’t go back in this morning, so I have been able to carefully remove the food bowl, as I suspected with the food mostly not eaten. I noticed that a hogilo (a sort of igloo shaped basket for hedgehogs) further down the garden also looks as if it has had leaves taken in, so maybe the hoglet has moved there. I am quite pleased it didn’t start hibernating in the box, as with the partition in, the ‘chamber’ really seemed too small to get enough insulating material (leaves, etc.) in.
I feel so lucky that the camera actually caught so much of the hog going into the hog house with great mouthfuls of vegetation. It was interesting that the hoglet seemed to be behaving just like normal most of the night and then suddenly it started rushing around looking for leaves at about 5 a.m. almost like a switch had been turned on.
To be fair to hogs in general, though, it was only one hog and a youngster, at that, so, very far from being any kind of definitive proof of how hogs like to make their nests.2nd December 2017 at 1:40 pm #8374
Hog houses cleaned out but didn’t find any hidden hogs but i double checked to make sure they were unused first.
These hogs are quite industrious as the material I took out of the one that was used was quite impressive in quantity. I put some straw and leaves in there to get things started but the amount of additional leaves the hog had brought in showed it had put quite some effort in to the process.
I also found several small twigs intertwined amongst the leaves which the hog must have dragged in as these were nothing to do with me and not what i would have expected to be part of the bedding (however I had seen sticks protruding from the entrance so this wasn’t a complete surprise just the number I found).
I was please to find it was very dry inside (the bubble wrap roof lining I incorporated in my home made hog house roof seems to be doing a great job) and also there was a shallow depression in the earth floor (similar to the scrapes ground nesting birds make to form their nest). This may have just have occurred naturally by the hog hunkering down to snooze or maybe the hog excavated it himself – would be really good to hear peoples thoughts on this?
Picking up on your advice Nic I have only put back a layer of straw over the earth floor and added some leaves but have left plenty of leaves in the vicinity just in case the hog does come back as you had mentioned they do move house even during hibernation.
I hope your hoglet is doing well and it chose your feeding box to hibernate.3rd December 2017 at 2:36 pm #8380
It is really interesting with their hibernation habits. First I read that they change place to hibernate depending on if the mound of leaves deteriorate, and than someone wrote that it might be a way to avoid parasites. I would guess that since even dry and warm artificial nests are abandoned, parasites might be one explanation.
it would be interesting to see a video of where many hedgehogs are radiotracked and see at what kind of places they most commonly hibernate.
Where I live there are some very low and very dense bushes and also very close to where people pass all the time. I wonder if they would realise that even though there are sounds of people, it’s still safe.5th December 2017 at 7:03 pm #8390
I suppose the twiggy bits help to bind the nest together. Mine also had long grasses twined around and also some fresh green vegetation. The hoglet recorded on my cam was very industrious, rushing around very speedily for nearly two hours with only a half hour gap when I didn’t see it in the middle. It was amazing to see how much it managed to carry at a time.
Interesting that there was a scraped out bit in the bottom of your hog house. Some people recommend putting the hogilos on a hard surface, but I put mine on the soil in case they wanted to make a scrape which I had read somewhere they sometimes do. Nice to hear of some evidence of this.
The hoglet is still around. It’s difficult to know whether she is using the box. I keep trying to leave a leaf in the entrance, but she is sometimes seen on the cam going in and then is out and about again later. Unfortunately it is usually very early in the morning so not a time I’m likely to be up to see what’s going on. Since my cat prevention plans have all been foiled, I have been spreading the food a bit thinner and covering it with some strands of long grasses. The hoglet seems to eat the food, but I hoped the cat might think it wasn’t worth bothering. So far, I haven’t seen the cat eating it and there is usually enough left in the morning for a ‘mob’ of starlings to come down to eat the remains.5th December 2017 at 7:09 pm #8391
I always thought the reason they sometimes move might be parasites, but also natural disasters, such as flooding or if their nest was disturbed by other animals or humans. I read that they actually sometimes make new nests during hibernation (rather than moving to another one they had already made) and having seen the how industrious the little hoglet was, that must take up a huge amount of their precious stored up energy.
Hedgehog Street did a survey this year of hedgehog homes, so it will be interesting to hear the results, and that may go some way to answering your question. Otherwise, I read that they like hibernating in bramble and scrub patches which makes sense, bearing in mind their name. It sounds as if the place your are describing is a bit like that, so might be a good site. Are you sure they don’t use it, I imagine a wild nest would be very well camouflaged.6th December 2017 at 9:54 pm #8396
I have no idea wether they hibernate in these bushes since they are so dense that from above i can hardly get my arm in and cannot see. Laying in the ground I might see a very short distance. They may absolutely nest there without me seeing. Close to this was the first time to see one in the spring, but that could be just my timing.
Next autumn maybe I´ll shove some leaves under also these bushes.
I live where there is rented flats and would feel a bit stupid laying on the ground to look for signs of hibernating hogs. Guess it would not be a big step from laying down filming anyway 😉9th December 2017 at 11:19 am #8402
I can see why you might not be wanting to make yourself too conspicuous if the bushes are in a public area! I guess a hibernating nest in thick bushes would be very hard to see anyway.
How soon do the hogs there usually come back from hibernation?
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