Help – Have 30 hedgehogs per night
25th August 2021 at 3:05 pm #33353
Hi, I have been feeding what started as 5-8 hedgehogs per night & building up to around 20 per night, but over the past week I have started getting 30+ visits per night, with up to 5 at the same time. I am recording them on a camera & can see them come in, eat, drink & then leave. I haven’t seen any babies this year, so not a family turning up, they all arrive separately. My front garden is tiny, only 4mtrs x 5mtrs and only has lawn. Is this usual to have soo many visits in a built up area, bearing in mind it only started with a few. They are now arriving from 9pm and pretty much all through the night until 5am. I am struggling to keep up with feeding them, I only have 3 food bowls & 1 water bowl & getting through a 5kg tub of hedgehog pellets within 1-2 weeks (£10 per tub). I would really like someone to explain why my garden is the popular venue for them & if this is usual. Obviously I understand that a few may be popping in more than once a night, but this just seems so unreal to have these numbers every night.25th August 2021 at 5:09 pm #33356
You are lucky to be starting with 5-8, I started with one until the others caught on. It may just be that there is a high population density, although I have noticed that hogs will sometimes return to the same garden a few times in a night, so it may be fewer individuals making multiple visits. Clearly they are very keen on the food that you’re offering. I think front gardens are generally more accessible than back gardens, they can just walk under the gate or whatever, rather than having to find a hole in the six foot fencing most of us have now.25th August 2021 at 6:15 pm #33357
I am feeding them “Nature” Extra Select Hedgehog Pellets, I get it from Amazon in a 5ltr clear tub. I only used this as there are so many cats in the neighbourhood which I don’t want to encourage & luckily cats don’t touch it.
I thought that as hedgehogs were solitary I wouldn’t expect to get so many. How do they know where the food is? do they communicate or leave scent trails for others? I would really love to find someone to ask.25th August 2021 at 8:06 pm #33360
There are experts on here, although I’m not one of them. Hedgehog interactions are fascinating. They are solitary creatures, but they also seem to be fairly tolerant of each other, especially the females and young ones. They have ‘ranges’ areas that they regularly visit, but they aren’t exactly territorial in the same way a lot of other animals are. The males do fight, often over a female, but as the fighting consists of ‘biffing’ which is a sort of heavy sideways nudging, injuries are rare. The females will sometimes object to sharing food bowls, but not always, as I’ve often seen two or three in the feeding station without any conflicts. Everyone seems to be tolerant of the babies, I’ve seen hoglets push past adults ten times their size when they want to get through.25th August 2021 at 8:21 pm #33361
As for how they find the food, they have a great sense of smell, and they seem to know their ranges very well, so if they’ve found food with you before, they will keep returning for more. Nic (one of the experts on here) theorises that they can follow scent trails, and my own experience seems to support this. I’m not quite sure how the hedgehogs get into my garden, but the route involves a squeezing around the side and back of my shed and weaving around multiple obstacles. I’ve lived here for two years and hadn’t seen a hedgehog in the garden before this summer, so we think that one hog managed to find her way in, repeated the route a few times cos she liked the garden, and other hogs followed her scent trail along the convoluted route. Nic says there’s no direct evidence for this theory, but it seems plausible.25th August 2021 at 8:57 pm #33363
I certainly find them fascinating. I think I have seen every type of behaviour in my garden & my camera has sound as well, so get to hear the snuffing. I have seen a few vicious fights, but as you say most are just nudging or rolling the other across the lawn.
I think a scent trail has got be the logical way as I can’t see this many hedgehogs all finding the food across a tarmac car park & coming under my front gate as pot luck, especially as I seem to be getting more & more hedgehogs each week.
My camera took 68 videos which are 30 seconds long last night & none of the hedgehogs seem to enter or leave together, they are all so independent & haven’t even seen any little ones with a mother, but quite a few juveniles I think!
I have just replaced the batteries to the camera tonight (they don’t last long with so many clips) so it will be interesting to see how many come back tonight. I only have 3 feed bowls filled to the brim, but have found an additional water bowl which I have put out…. hopefully these will last until the morning (otherwise its a 2am re-fill for me during the night again!!)26th August 2021 at 12:48 am #33367
Hogs will make multiple visits to feeding stations in one night so it is highly unlikely that you have 30 hedgehogs visiting. If you think about how they eat naturally, they forage and eat small amounts at a time, so making several visits to a feeding station mimics that behaviour. When I was keeping a record of how many times individual hogs visited the feeding area, I found 4 or 5 visits a night were not unusual and some hogs visited more frequently some nights.
We are running up towards hibernation time, especially for the males, some of which disappear to hibernate as early as September so they may be trying to build up some weight in preparation and consequently making more frequent visits. Also it may be that other people nearby normally offer food to the hogs and are away on holiday, so the hogs may be relying more on the offerings from you.
68 videos doesn’t seem unusual to me – although I sympathise re. the batteries! I use rechargeable ones now and tend to change them daily. If they run down too low the cameras are more likely to misbehave.
I wouldn’t worry about the numbers, if I were you – just be happy that the hogs visit and enjoy watching them! When there are more than one hog visiting at a time, it gives the opportunity of seeing their interactions as well.
My advice would be to make water available to the hogs all day every day – not just at night. They can find a certain amount of food in the wild, but can’t always find water. Wide but shallow plant saucers are ideal for this. The ones I use vary in size from about 8 inches across – the hogs are very good at tipping up smaller ones.
Good luck and happy hog watching.26th August 2021 at 1:08 am #33369
Are they really already gorging for winter? That probably explains the behaviour I saw last night. I found a juvenile fast asleep in the feeding station, right in the middle of the cat biscuits. I was a bit concerned as I’d not seen this before but decided to leave it alone. 90 mins later I went back to check and found that hedgehog had wandered off but been replaced by the little girl that was born in my garden, also fast asleep in the food. The cat chose that moment to jump on the feeding station, waking her up, she looked around in confusion then promptly started eating again. Is this prompted by the colder weather or the time of year or what?26th August 2021 at 1:27 am #33371
It is still quite early to be thinking of hibernation, but some males disappear to hibernate in September. Females tend to go later as they more often have hoglet duties. Raising hoglets takes a lot out of them. But then males return earlier than females and it all works very well because the males have time to put on a bit of weight before the females return and the males waste a lot of energy running around after them! That’s a bit of a simplistic explanation – there are various ifs and buts and variations.
As with much about hogs, what triggers hibernation is not fully understood. I don’t believe it can be solely cold weather – some hogs choose not to hibernate at all and continue to visit in well sub-zero temperatures with seemingly little concern and it would not explain the variation in timing of different starting times of various hogs’ hibernation. It may be one of those things which hogs continue to keep us all guessing about.26th August 2021 at 1:28 am #33372
I’m glad you’ve got some juveniles KM, I thought it would be odd if all your visitors were exclusively adults.
I am really surprised they can go into hibernation as early as September, thought it would be November at the earliest. I’ve made two new houses for them in the last week (thinking they’d want some time to get used to them before making their hibernation nest) and plan to build another in next few days. To my surprise one of them was in use today, despite the fact I’d only finished it on Monday. I’m glad I got a move on with construction if they are potentially hibernating in next couple months. I’ll get the others finished asap. There’s been a bit of variation in design and materials, so we will have to see which ones, if any, are used for hibernation. Although I suppose I might not be able to tell.4th September 2021 at 7:40 pm #33737
I have identified 16 hedgehogs in one night that have unique markings, none of which came in twice in the same, the rest I can’t idenify. I am now getting 35-40 separate visits per night and have had to up the feed bowls to 5 per night + water.
I do feel very lucky, but concerned that food must be scarce in this area for so many individuals to be visiting each night, with more per week.
I had a new hedgehogs arrive during the week that only has one eye & has been in every other night since.4th September 2021 at 8:50 pm #33740
At most pet food shops hog food is quite expensive. Have you considered buying cheaper cat or dog dry food? It would save you quite a bit in the long run. You really are blessed to have so many visitors in your area.5th September 2021 at 12:42 am #33742
It’s possible, at this time of year that you might have 16 hogs visiting if some of them are this year’s hoglets. But a possibility is that a hog rescue may have released a group of hogs in your area. They should really be returned to where they came from or as near to that as possible – except in exceptional circumstances, but is has been heard of before that groups of hogs have been released in certain places.
Have you spoken to anyone else in your area about them. Because if some of the hogs are only visiting your feeding station once a night, it seems likely they are visiting one somewhere else as well. It is not normal for hogs to eat all their food in one sitting – as cats or dogs might.5th September 2021 at 1:25 am #33743
p.s. I meant to say ‘you might have 16 hogs visiting if some of them are this year’s hoglets from a natural population
For instance I used to have 5 females and 7 males who visited (not all the males all the nights – males have a bigger range than females). I would think 12 adult hogs would be a very good population for any area, naturally. Then there were hoglets added to that later in the year. (Although numbers haven’t been as good more recently).
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