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Hibernation 2019

Home Forums Champions’ chat Hibernation 2019

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
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    Hi Im new. I have two hedgehogs visiting me almost nightly for approx 4 months since July 2019. I feel Im so lucky.
    I have 5 cats who dont bother with them at all.
    I have a large side room which has chairs in for my cats & recently I saw one of the hedgehogs asleep in there next to a large pot plant.
    Ive just ordered a hedgehog house from Ebay
    My question is this. Is it a good idea to place the new hedgehog house in the sideroom to protect them from the freezing winter?
    Theres a dark quiet corner in there that would be suitable.
    I live alone so there would be very little activity to bother them.
    Or would they prefer it in the garden?
    Im crazy about them so I have to do the right thing

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    Hi Ziggysue

    Welcome to the Forum. Yes, you are lucky to have had hogs visiting!

    I would put the hog house out in the garden. Hogs build a hibernaculum which is quite intricate and insulated so that they maintain the correct body temperature. That would be built inside the box. They don’t need to be too warm. Some people think they are sleeping during hibernation, but it isn’t really quite like that. Rather their bodily functions just all slow down, so that they don’t use up too much energy. It’s a clever way of surviving when their natural food sources (beetles, caterpillars, etc.) become less available in the cold weater.

    So that if they become too warm, they might temporarily come out of hibernation, which might waste some of the energy they have put down in the form of fat. There are two types of fat (maybe think of them as a bit like fuel) one type keeps them ticking over and the other is to help them wake up and get going again after hibernation. So it’s important that none of this energy gets wasted.

    Occasionally hogs will choose to hibernate in an open shed/garage. In effect, that is just like an extra large hog house – so not like a room attached to the house. Personally, I would try to avoid hogs coming into the house at all. They might hide away somewhere and get shut in by mistake. But they are just in general better off outside.

    When you get your box, think very carefully about where you want to put it. (a shady quiet part of the garden). It’s best not to move them too much, because sometimes hogs need to think of them as ‘part of the landscape’ before they’ll use them. Other times they might take to them straight away, so you might be lucky. I would try to collect some suitable bedding and leave it near to the hog house. Most hogs prefer to do their own interior decoration, especially for hibernation nests. Maybe put a small amount inside to give them the idea, but let them build the rest. So, leaves (medium sized ones are best), long grasses, hay, etc.

    Good luck. I hope you get a tenant for your box.


    Hello again, Nic – and Hello Ziggysue.

    I’m wondering what sort of prevailing temperature we need to be experiencing before hogs start to hibernate?

    2-week weather forecast for around here predicts temperatures of 8 to 10 degrees C.

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    Hi berniel

    When the hogs decide to hibernate is a complex set of circumstances, which isn’t fully understood. It isn’t completely down to temperature, nor completely down to food availability, but probably a mixture of these and other things. i.e. for instance male hogs tend to hibernate a fair bit earlier than the females. They don’t have any hoglet duties like the females and so are able to put on the required levels of fat needed for hibernation earlier. I think some hogs, especially some males may already be hibernating.

    The males also tend to return from hibernation earlier than the females. This is quite convenient for them as they have a bit of time to eat and put on some of the weight they’ve lost without the females around to be ‘courted’. Once the females are back, the males use up a huge amount of energy dashing around and then circling the females, rolling up other males, etc.

    I usually find, here, that the males disappear first, then the females (once the hoglets are weaned) and then last the hoglets. The hoglets, in particular, can often still be around when there are frosts and don’t seem to mind too much.


    We have a hedgehog coming into the garden at around 8pm, he goes in the hut, eats some food then sleeps in the hut till he leaves at 06:30am
    I’m assuming this is normal and we are to keep feeding him and providing him, I suppose, somewhere to sleep at night.


    I have 3 regular visitors, but they don’t show up until about 9.30pm at the earliest and they’re often still roaming the open space out the back of the houses at 1 to 2am. I don’t know if all 3 use the feeding station, but I do know that it gets more than one ‘visit’ overnight.

    Thanks for your thoughts on timing for hibernations, Nic. I think I’ll wait for the cameras to be delivered (about 4 to 5 days time) before installing the house in the garden.


    My hedgehogs are visiting a lot earlier now – earliest not long after 7pm a couple of nights ago, and my camera picks up a hedgehog that comes back to my garden at around 6am, last saturday, she came back about 7.15am – which is just before sunrise.

    And they are eating a lot more, – everything thing I put in their bowls get eaten, completely clean bowls, and everything that spills onto the floor also gets eaten, it’s been like this for about a week.

    Also there is a hedgehog that’s chosen to hibernate in my hedgehog house, and has been in there for about two weeks now.

    On colder nights, I leave a handful of straw in her tunnel, and the following night she brings it into her nest. Also I noticed some shredded newspaper, which I lined the floor with (but I didn’t shred,) so, she’s obviously been very
    busy getting it just right.

    At the moment, she’s my most frequent visitor, and eating most of the food. I asked a lecturer from a local wildlife college about it, and he thought she might be pregnant – I hope not, as the hoglets won’t have much chance of survival. (wierdly she doesn’t like wet dog food, but loves the spikes and webbox hedgehog food).

    I haven’t seen any sign of Huffy since he got biffed by Klepto, nor have I seen Klepto. But it might be because they are male and perhaps have already started hibernating.

    The fox is a regular visitor again, he comes every night. It concerns me greatly, but there’s not a lot I can do. I have sought advise from vets, from the wildlife college, from Pets at Home, but everyone just says the same, in that I can’t change the situation. No-one recommended putting fox deterrents down, apart from Pets at Home, so I’ll just leave it as unfortunately.


    I thought my homemade hedgehog house was fairly waterproof but when I inspected it yesterday I discovered some of the hay inside near the top looked a bit damp and there were quite a lot of bugs in there, (along with a hedgehog which I was delighted about). I like the thought of the hedgehogs being warm and dry but I’m guessing that being wild animals a bit of dampness won’t do them any harm. Is that right?
    He/she was buried underneath the hay so I’ve left it as is but I have put some more felt roofing over the top of it and secured with a brick.

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    Hi Funnybee

    Sounds like it’s the best solution to put the felt on the top. Hopefully the damp doesn’t go down too far. It’s best not to keep looking into the box. Hogs build their nests to be good insulation. When they hibernate they need to maintain a fairly constant, if fairly low, temperature, which could be affected if the house is opened. The hog may be hibernating, in which case it’s lovely that it’s using the new hog house.

    Fingers crossed all goes well with the hog. Good luck.


    Thanks Nic, now I know its occupied I will definitely leave it alone. Looks like my other house is occupied too as I’ve noticed bedding material has been dragged into the tunnel. Food is still being eaten so either there are more of them or they’re not fully asleep yet.

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    Hi Funnybee

    That’s really good if both boxes are being used! One or other of them, or even another hog might still be out and about. They don’t go to sleep, as such, it’s just that their metabolism slows right down during hibernation, so that they don’t need to eat. I would keep leaving food out until several days after the hogs have stopped eating it. Just in case another one turns up hoping for some food. It’s a good idea to leave water available all winter. Hogs sometimes come out of hibernation for short periods.


    Hi Nic, thanks for all the info, perhaps it explains the drop in number of sightings lately,
    We have had groups of up 4 feeding in both gardens most of the summer, all sizes eating together but recently we have dropped to single figures,
    One question, are dried mealworms OK for them, we have offered them the usual, cat food, fresh mince, and proprietary hedgehog food from the local garden centre but they just have a sniff and leave it but dried mealworms they seem to love!
    Regards, Coley.

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    Hi Coley

    Unfortunately dried mealworms are a definite no. They have an imbalance of calcium and phosphorous, which means that calcium is leached from the bones. They are especially bad for hoglets, because they are growing and some end up deformed as a result. But they also apparently have poor nutritional value and not sufficient to enable the hogs to put on the two types of fat they need for hibernation. Fresh mince is also not good re. a similar imblance.

    The following is a link of what is best to feed hogs – but really cat/dog/hog food. It also has a table showing various ratios, from which you will see that mealworms and raw mince have the worst ratios.

    Don’t beat yourself up too much about having fed mealworms. Many of us did before we found out they were bad for the hogs.

    If the hogs there have got used to eating mealworms, you might need to reduce them gradually, because the hogs can become addicted to them. But I would cut out the mince as well. You have an ideal opportunity when any hogs return next year after hibernation to leave the mealworms out completely. They will be hungry and likely eat whatever you offer them. If they have a choice they are likely to choose mealworms. So don’t start feeding them again. Sad that they like the things which are not good for them, but it’s like humans with chocolate and crisps.

    Good luck. I hope you manage to wean any hogs that haven’t hibernated yet off the mealworms. Have you tried dried cat food as well as wet stuff? If you don’t already, leaving loads of water around all year round, 24 hours a day could be a livesafer for a hog. But essential if you are feeding dry food.


    Thanks for that, and the link, we are going to have appreciate the fact we have generated a generation of ‘mealworm addicts’
    I just wish people who know the problems you outline could just point out ‘pet products’ that are suitable for hogs, and make life a bit simpler…possibly this forum could contact pet food suppliers and get them to add ‘recommenced by …this site could ‘pick’ the names of genuine hedgehog support groups.
    But, in the meantime, puppy food, with decreasing amounts of mealworms it is.
    And your advice will save us a bliddy small fortune…..seen the price of mealworms😁👍


    I was guilty of the mealworm thing for quite a time until I read an article on metabolic bone disease affecting them. I have now switched to Calci worms which they have now got used to (mixed in with Hedgehog nibbles). I understand these have much higher calcium levels and hence are better for the hogs. So their current diet supplement from me is mostly nibbles with just a sprinkle of Calci worms. I put out five/six 4″ terracotta bowls every night which is why I buy bulk, i.e. 20 or 40kg nibbles a time and get through 2-3 deliveries a year. Also, found its worth shopping around for this feed. My sunflower hearts for the birds, hedgehog nibbles and Cali worms are all sourced from different suppliers saving quite a bit of money in the process.

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