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Late Hibernating or early breeding ?

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Late Hibernating or early breeding ?

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    I wonder if anyone can help me ?

    I have a hedgehog box and last summer it housed a hedgehog and three baby hoglets; I was so pleased about that I decided to fit a CCTV system to the box, which I installed last October. I didn’t see any hibernating activity in the autumn and so assumed that the box would be empty over winter, but hoped that there would another family this summer.

    On Thursday 18th April, I started to do some maintenance on the CCTV system – I checked the camera and decided that I had sited it badly and wanted to move it. However when I opened the box, I realised there was a hedgehog in there ! So I replaced the lid and spent some time in the evening watching it.

    Since then (two days), however, there has been no movement in the box and the camera is largely obscured by straw (which is why, of course, I want to move it). So I’m wondering whether
    1. I disturbed a late hibernating hog which has now left the house
    2. The hog is still in there but has gone back to sleep – this seems unlikely given the current warm weather.
    3. I disturbed an early hog that was preparing to mate and had chosen the box for giving birth – but this seems very early
    Or perhaps there’s another explanation I haven’t thought of ?
    I was doing the work now because the advice online suggests that a box is likely to be unoccupied in April. If a hedgehog has been hibernating over winter, I’d want to clean out the bedding and rinse it with boiling water to try and stop infections.


    Avatar photo

    Hi Phil1

    It is possible that a hog hasn’t come out of hibernation yet. It isn’t completely temperature related and they have to go through the process of coming out of hibernation which may take some time. I know the advice is not to clean out boxes until April, but I find here, that the females don’t tend to return until at least mid April. Some of the hogs went to hibernate quite late, and so may return later. The older females here, have not returned yet. We have to remember that there was also the cold snap before the warm weather and I found the males returned later than usual.

    I think it is too early for babies yet. Although, I suppose if a male and female both didn’t hibernate, it may be possible, if unlikely.

    A hog could just be using it as a day nest. To be sure whether a hog is going in and out, you could leave some rolled up paper or a small twig in the entrance and see if it has been disturbed. I find hogs are very clever at going in and out of boxes without us seeing, even if we think we have been watching all the time!



    Thanks for the reply. I will certainly try the twig, although my camera inside suggests that the bedding has not been disturbed since Thursday, which suggests that either the hog has left the box or it has gone back to hibernating. If the hog was using it as a day nest then it may be that the return to more normal temperatures this week may induce it to return.

    I assume that a female hog will scout for a breeding nest first and that finding a suitable location may help her come into heat ? I would also imagine that female hogs would more likely abandon a potential breeding nest if disturbed than a hibernating hog ?

    I will probably keep an eye on it for the next week. If there appears to be no activity I’ll open it up next weekend.


    Avatar photo

    Hi Phil1

    I’m not sure a female would scout for a nest that far ahead and once a mature female is out and about, they can breed. It is known that female hedgehogs will sometimes abandon their nests when they have very young hoglets, if they are disturbed, or even on occasion eat them, so that is the time to really make sure they aren’t disturbed, but I think it would be very unusual for them to have young at this time of year.

    Re. the camera. Not sure how yours work, but Hogs are very good camera dodgers too – leading to jokes about teleporting hogs! If your camera is in a box, I know when a hog here made a nest, the outside of the actual nesting material wasn’t disturbed at all when he went in and out, so if it had been up against a camera it wouldn’t look any different. But, of course, I don’t know exactly what your set up is.

    Your plan to check next week sounds good. Good Luck.


    I opened the box up this lunchtime and found it empty – apart from some woodlice and a very juicy tick ! I was quite surprised because there had been some signs of movement – bits of straw moving about and the twigs at the entrance were disturbed. So I guess my resident was a late riser !

    Anyway, that allowed me to do some corrective work on the box, including moving the camera to a much better position. See new blog page at Hoping for a summer brood now …


    So less than a week after cleaning out the house and re-siting the camera, someone moved in…

    Hedgehog in hog house


    Oooo lovely!

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