Do hedgehogs ever take over other hedgehogs nests?
5th October 2022 at 10:22 pm #40157
We put out a hedgehog house (filled with hay) just over a week ago and were very pleased that one of the local hedgehogs seems to have moved in within a couple of days. He’s been very busy taking in leaves and presumably is planning on hibernating there.
We have quite a few hedgehogs that visit us and a thought has occurred to us. Do hedgehogs ever invade and take over other hedgehog’s nests? Does anyone know if this ever happens? Could he come back to his nest one day and find another hedgehog squatting in there?!
David7th October 2022 at 7:14 pm #40165
I think they might.
Last year a male hog started taking nesting material into one of my feed boxes in the autumn, despite there not being much room in there for a hibernating nest. He then settled down in there for some days, but continued to make occasional visits out at night for food. I started thinking ‘I’m sure that’s not the same hog going in’, so looked more carefully and, yes, there were two (both male) hogs going in there. As they were both still coming out each night and the weather was still quite mild, I risked a very careful and quiet look and there they were, both curled up side by side.
From video evidence I was able to see that the hogs didn’t always return for the last time of the night in the same order – so that, in effect, sometimes the second hog must have become in main possession (there didn’t seem to be room for them to get past each other. Both were large males). Then one hog stopped coming out (the one who had taken the nesting material in). The other hog continued coming and going for some nights, but was last seen exiting the area in a different direction.
So, if the original hog hadn’t been persistent in going back into the box, even though the other hog may already have been in there, it seems possible that hog 2 may have kept that nest for himself.
In the book ‘Hedgehogs’ Pat Morris described how there were more nests than hedgehogs in a study area (as if some built spare nests, for later, just in case), but that if a hedgehog did change nests during hibernation time, it always built itself a new nest. Also that only young hedgehogs shared nests and that was not for long. But it seems some nests may have been for practice, or the hog wasn’t happy with the original and decided to build another. But I have also had a hog here (that year’s hoglet) who built a lovely hibernating nest, but decided not to hibernate and only used it for short naps between snacks and occasional overday stays.
The two hedgehogs here, last year, were large adults, but it could be said they didn’t share for long, in the scheme of things. (Earlier in the year, one had been biffing the other every time they met! So it didn’t seem at all as if they were best buddies!) It may be that hogs have begun to change their behaviour, possibly due to the scarcity of suitable nesting sites – although there was another feeding box nearby which had been used for nesting a previous year.
It seems unlikely that a hog would use a nest already used by another for a period of time and then vacated – because of the risk of a build up of parasite eggs, but again, scarcity of sites may not give a hog much choice.
But that all shows the importance of providing good habitat for the hogs in our gardens and hog houses are, of course, a help, too, to provide nesting sites. That’s great news that a hog took possession of your hog house so soon! I hope it has a successful hibernation time.
Good luck and happy hog watching!
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