Obsessed by the hedgehogs in my garden
18th July 2019 at 3:02 am #16665
I had a visitor a few weeks ago, a hedgehog during the night whilst sat on my porch smoking. Thankfully, the place where I volunteer is a conservation service and were able to help me out and make me a lovely sturdy wooden hedgehog home. At the moment I’m just using it as a feeding station.
So I bought 3 dishes from Ark Wildlife which were advertised as being suitable for hedgehogs. I use one for fresh water, one for specialist hedgehog food (only £2 for 400g from Morrisons, or Spikes 650g £4.99 at Pets at Home, in the UK) and one smaller sized one for cat food (chicken in jelly).
Well it seems I’ve got a family of hedgehogs visiting me each night since I put the food out – one bigger one (which I think might have been their mum, and smaller ones, which might only be one or two mths old, I’m not sure how many of them as they all look similar.
Anyway, the hedgehog food is really useful, as I’ve found out they are very noisy eaters, so when I sit out on my porch quietly, I don’t always know that they are there until I hear them crunching on the pellets – I can’t always hear them eating the cat food. But the cat food is the first to get demolished – and then they will eat the hedgehog food all night – most mornings the dishes are empty (apart from the water) but I have often seen them slurping the water so I’ve found it necessary.
I leave the food just outside of the hedgehog home, but when I’m away for the night – I put it inside, the cat food always goes, but they sometimes don’t eat all of the hedgehog food. I saw one hedgehog go completely inside of it, stayed inside for about 20minutes and left a poo inside. So after that I put some newspaper in it. But decided to keep the food and water outside as was worried that not all of the hedgehogs feel ok about going inside the home yet.
I got some plastic sheeting to put over the home – as it’s not treated – and some straw – and got some dried leaves whilst I was out walking this weekend – on Friday I will put it under some brambles and branches from a tree, cover it with the plastic sheeting and put some brash – sticks and other stuff I can find – then I will put a little bit of straw on top of the existing newspaper and then put the dried leaves on top. In autumn I think I will collect leaves and create a leaf pile beside the home as I’ve only got evergreen trees in my garden, so will have to hunt and steal them.
The home has got a porch entrance but not a tunnel like some of them – so I’ve been putting two bricks (one on top of the other) 13cm away from the entrance – I caught a local cat trying to get into the home to get to the food but couldn’t because of the bricks. So I will continue to put bricks in front of the home when I move it under the brambles.
This weekend I made a feeding station, got a plastic storage box for £3.99 from Home Bargins, and cut out a square hole with a saw which was really difficult to do, and left a lot of jaggered edges, so I measured and saw some untreated wood and made a square out of that which fits snuggly inside of the square hole and secured it to the box with string – I couldn’t find any insulating tape and the other tape I had was stuff that could come off easily and perhaps get stuck to a hedgie which wouldn’t be good. Only problem is, that due to the wood being 1 or 2cm in depth, I wonder if the hole is now to small – it’s 4 by 4 inch – do you think it should be a bit larger?
So on Friday I’m going to start feeding them from the feeding station and again put two more bricks 13cm away from the entrance – so the local cats would find it hard to squeeze in – I think on the first night I’m going to put the cat food at the entrance and leave the water and hedgehog food outside but by the entrance, and then after a few nights put both foods completely inside and leave water outside until the winter – to prevent it from freezing.
Since I’ve been putting the food down, (about a week and a half now) there is a hedgehog in my garden from after 10pm until the early hours – I don’t have to wait long (sitting quietly on my porch) until one comes in so I suspect other people in my area aren’t feeding them.
They make really cute huffing sounds when they are eating – I guess it’s a sign of contentment (I hope). Also I heard a hissing sound tonight for the first time, and two of the small hedgehogs had met up and one of them seemed interested but the other was stood still and hissing. I’m not sure where they are nesting at the moment – but one of them, which was the one that was hissing at the other hedgehog, enters the same way each night and walks along the hedge and stops where there is a pile of sticks – so ‘she’ might be nesting there. The brambles are next to it – so I decided not to disturb the pile of sticks, but put the hedgehog house next to it, as it seems like the hedgies seem to think that is a good spot.
I have loads of slugs and snails that I need to get rid of, but they don’t seem to be interested. Since I’ve been putting the food out, the slugs and snails have all gravitated near the hedgehog food and they sometimes sit in the bowl and eat the food – but at least it keeps it off my plants. I’ve decided to keep my front garden tidy, and the side garden, where i can see from my porch at night wild.
I was a bit worried about the little hedgehog making the hissing noises earlier – because after the other hedgehog went, she stopped hissing and then ran towards the hedgehog food, ate for a long while, had some water, then ate some more, than walked away, then she stopped under a branch and seemed to be lying down but she was moving her head, I was worried that she might have got hurt somehow by a stick or something, so I went inside as I thought she might have seen me and was scared, went back outside and she was gone. Now I’m thinking perhaps she had seen a bug to eat and perhaps crouching low to get at it.
The hedgehog home is beautifully made with really thick wood, the conservation charity I volunteer with get their wood from sustainable sources, and we use it to make raised beds, the carpenter made some hedgehog homes out of off cuts and didn’t treat them. The only problem is that it hasn’t got a lid, so it will be more difficult to clean in April – but I think I will just remove the newspaper and clean it with hot water – and come to cope with the fact that if it will get used, it will have the odd urine and poo stain on it that I might not be able to remove.
I’m wondering, because some of them have been inside it to get to the food, and others have been eating outside of it, they will recognise the smell of it when I move it, and be more likely to nest there when I move it and make it more suitable for a nest?
I was thinking about buying a bag of mealworms I saw in Home Bargains, as I know they would love that, but also knew it’s bad for them and decided against it. Other people on blogs say that their hedgehogs don’t eat the specialist hedgehog food, but mine love it, I think they prefer the wet cat food more, but they eat up all the hedgehog food nearly every night – and the other night I had to refill as it had all gone by midnight.
During the past two weeks I’ve read up lots about hedgehogs, so knew about not feeding them mealworms and how to make a feeding station – but if anyone can tell me anything more I can be doing or what I might have got wrong, please comment – thanks.18th July 2019 at 2:49 pm #16681
Hi Hedgie Lover
It sounds as if you have been doing a pretty good job of finding out about the hogs. Well done for steering clear of the mealworms.
I think the hissing sound you refer to might be what we normally call huffing – would that fit? If so, it is usually part of courtship. The male circles around the female and she huffs (does sound a bit like hissing) and goes round and round in the middle of his circle.
Is there any chance you can get another hog house. If so, I would be inclined to leave the one you have been using for feeding where it is and put the other one in the other site you have ear-marked. But try to get it so that it opens at the top, even if it has four pegs at the corners and lifts off – you can weigh it down with bricks, etc. The most important thing when cleaning out is to get rid of the parasite eggs by using boiling water.
It’s a good idea to leave water out in your garden all day every day. I use large plant saucers, probably 8 inches wide or more and not so deep that a hoglet could get stuck in it. I usually have a few water sources around. If a dehydrated hog came out during the day, it could be a lifesaver. Also useful for nursing mothers. They can double up, during the day, for the birds to drink from.
I’m sure you’ve already read about linking gardens and making your garden as wildlife friendly as possible. Both very important for the hogs.
Keep an eye out for the little hog. It might just have been eating a bug, as you suggested, but if you are worried about it, or any other hog, at any time, you can find the contact details of your nearest hog carer/rehabilitator from the BHPS 01584 890801.
Good luck with the hogs and happy hog watching.19th July 2019 at 2:30 am #16708
Thanks for the encouraging words Nic – I’m absolutely obsessed with them now – I even go to sleep thinking about them – I think I’m in love with them.
Two little hedgehogs met in the garden a few hours ago – one was eating the hedgehog food and the other came into the garden behind him – the one eating the food head butted (is it called biffing?) the poor hedgie quite a lot but instead of biffing back it just took the blows and didn’t move – after a short while, the head butting hedgehog went back to his food, and the other still stayed still so I crept quietly back inside and filled a little bowl of dog food and placed it near by, after a minute or so, it got up and went to the food and almost ate the whole lot before it ran off into my hedge – the other hedgehog left shortly after that going into the opposite direction.
I’m just wondering why the little hedgehog didn’t biff back? do you think it might be poorly, or is this normal behaviour – at least it got some nice chunky meat to eat and was ok enough to eat that and then run off into my hedge – I presume it’s ok – perhaps submissive. I looked on youtube with hedgehogs biffing each other, and they both put up a fight.19th July 2019 at 2:37 am #16709
I think it might be ok – I’ve just seen a youtube clip of a hedgehog head butting another, and the other not head butting back and getting pushed by the other hedgehog but it doesn’t want to budge and keeps coming back for more head butts – that was what the little hedgehog was doing – they were both little so at least it wasn’t an adult bullying a little one.19th July 2019 at 8:24 am #16712
Hi Hedgie Lover
I don’t tend to watch youtube often, so not sure, but it’s possible that the more unusual ‘altercations’ are put on there. There is a variety of responses to being biffed. Some immediately roll up – probably the ones more submissive to that particular hedgehog, some just put up minimal resistance and are pushed along sideways and some (I have found, less often) fight back.
Here, I have found that more often than not, the hogs seem to know whether it is worth putting up any resistance. But some hogs, not content with just rolling another hog up, will revisit it and give it another occasional biff to make sure it stays that way – until it gets fed up with that a wanders off leaving the rolled up one in peace.
Sounds like what you saw was fairly mild exchange, possibly because they are youngsters. In my experience, an adult male wouldn’t normally let the biffed one eat nearby like that so soon after.19th July 2019 at 11:13 am #16715
I don’t think he rolled up – but he got pushed around a lot – I felt so sorry for him – but was so glad when he found the dog meat to eat – I have a lot of empathy for the underdogs.19th July 2019 at 12:28 pm #16716
I know what you mean! But sometimes with hogs, the one I’ve just been feeling sorry for starts biffing the next male hog that comes along!20th July 2019 at 12:58 am #16729
they are so funny aren’t they?
Bit disappointed tonight – only one brief visit from a hedgehog, had a tiny bit of water and avoided the food.
A cat ate the dog food I put out, but will put some more out in a minute.
Problem might be because I’ve been giving them morrisons hedgehog food which they like – and nearly always it’s all gone by morning – but I changed it to try out Spikes, even though it was more expensive, (I was in Pets for Home and picked a bag up to save me a job going to morrisons). And I wish I never bothered now – because they ate all the morrisons food last night – so put spikes out and don’t think they touched it, and tonight only the snails seem interested in it, thankfully the cat left it alone.
I’ve read that other people on this blog that their hedgehogs like Spikes, so I wonder why mine don’t – it’s completely odd.
Unfortunately can’t get to morrisons until monday – so I guess there won’t be much activity in my garden this weekend – shame – oh well I guess I could do with some early nights. I’ve been having some late nights since I’ve been feeding them.20th July 2019 at 7:44 am #16731
It’s not necessarily that they don’t like it, it is more a case of “huh? That’s not what was here yesterday?” just like when a pub changes the brand of beer, you’re annoyed at first but then just get on with it. My lot have always had Spikes but if I use something else then at first they don’t touch it but then they realise that that is what they’re getting so they may as well have it!
Fussy little devils they are.20th July 2019 at 9:35 am #16733
they ate the dog food though – so someone’s been out – gonna buy a morrisons bag on Monday, and then I’ll hide a little bit of spike’s in it – just so I haven’t wasted my money on it. So annoyed with myself as I was hesitant to buy it knowing that morrisons was cheaper – but because it’s such a popular brand I thought they’d like it even more than the morrisons stuff – but they haven’t touched a morsel – even the slugs and snails that were around the bowl last night haven’t eaten anything – whereas they have a bit of a nibble of the morrisons stuff.20th July 2019 at 2:51 pm #16741
Hi hedgie lover
I think it’s a good idea to mix some in with the other food, so it doesn’t get wasted. But Williamc is right – they just don’t like change! But would get used to it if they didn’t have any other choice.20th July 2019 at 7:32 pm #16745
I bought some go-cat biscuits – chicken & duck flavour from my local shop
– so see if they like that, I’ve hidden a bit of spikes in it. I’ll still buy a bag of hedgehog food from morrisons on monday – at least I won’t run out of food for them for a while.
See if they come out tonight. I’m using the food station tonight and buried the hedgehog house at the edge of the garden in between the trees and under some bramble and covered it up with leaves and sticks.
They have got used to having the dishes outside and wonder if they will dare to step inside the food station, they might not – but I think I’ll leave some tasty dog meat near the entrance to tempt them in. It hasn’t been raining today like it was yesterday – and I wonder if that might have caused a drop in seeing them last night? Hopefully they’ll come out tonight – especially as I’ve put tasty chicken & duck cat biscuits out for them.21st July 2019 at 2:48 am #16749
Just seen little Hedgie in the feeding station and ate all the dog food and was munching on the cat biscuits – he/she’s the one that I think has it’s nest in my garden, under a pile of sticks, but the entrance of the nest faces onto the empty space (I haven’t got a fence, just trees) and the previous tenant or council, before I moved in, must have chopped down some branches and left it in between the trees, which, I have just found out, is good for hedgehogs.
Haven’t seen any other hedgehogs yet tonight, so it’s a quiet night, but I’m glad my favourite hedgehog is making use of the feeding station.21st July 2019 at 2:51 am #16750
I’ve got a hedgehog home which I buried today with brash (sticks, logs and leaves) and put it beside the pile of sticks which I think Hedgie is living in, but what I think I will do is get more sticks and collect leaves (in the autumn), and make even more piles so that they go along the side of my garden but leave the space where Hedgie gets into my garden free from the brash piles. Instead of buying loads of Hedgehog homes.14th May 2020 at 4:17 pm #23298
hi, i loved your heading. I too am obsessed by my hedgehogs, they get you that way, don’t they! I hope you’re getting them again this year. I’ve also been experimenting with food, house arrangements etc. I think a hedgehog has invaded my brain as i spend almost every waking hour campaigning, reading about them, planning my garden for them etc etc. Maybe i’ll turn into one eventually! Best wishes from sunny Scotland & happy hedgie-watching & listening!
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