30th August 2021 at 9:26 am #33453
A couple of months ago I found a small hedgehog in the garden during the day. I left out dry and wet cat food and built a hedgehog house that day out of left over untreated wood. A got a trail cam and saw it was using it a couple of days later. I’ve left hay out which it is using to take into the house. Fast forward to now and about 2 weeks ago another appeared. That’s one seemed to sleep within the branches and leaves at the bottom of the holly tree. They seem to roam around together. It now seems they are sleeping in the same hog house, even tho I provided another the other side of the tree. There is only one feeding station and the original one uses it and the new one doesn’t. Anyway, if there is the possibility of hoglets, I’m worried it is too late in the season and they may not survive…? What can I do….do I add another feeding station, if hoglets appear, how can I help them? Scottish winters can be really cold …30th August 2021 at 4:39 pm #33457
I think what you’re asking is if they are a mated pair and likely to have babies because they have moved in together? Although there are lots of animals and birds that act that way, hedgehogs aren’t one of them. Hedgehog courtship only lasts the few days that the female is in season and then they ignore each other. Hogs sharing a house is not unknown, but it is unusual, and is usually only seen between two juveniles or two females (except in the case of mother and babies, obviously). You said that one at least is small, although people have different ideas of what a small hedgehog is. While you can’t absolutely rule out that one may be a pregnant female, it seems unlikely, as a pregnant female would almost certainly want her own space to raise her hoglets.
You are already doing an awful lot to help them by providing food and shelter for them. Don’t worry about another feeding station, it doesn’t sound like there’s any conflict between them and it’s more likely that the one not eating the food you put out isn’t used to being fed by humans, doesn’t like the food in question, or simply prefers the natural diet. However, the one that is eating it is presumably eating less of the small invertebrates that they would naturally eat, so they are both benefiting from you feeding them. This is the time of year that their natural diet starts to decline, so you are doing them a great kindness by supplementing their diet. Please also leave out shallow bowls of water for them, like large plant saucers, as water can be hard for them to find and is very important. Water should be provided 24/7, although I appreciate this can be difficult in Scotland when everything starts to freeze over.
I am glad to hear you built a second hedgehog house, but don’t be concerned if they don’t use it straight away- it can take them some time to get used to new things. If you leave bedding outside, leaves and grasses, you might make it more attractive to them, but in the end it is very much up to the hogs and they can be unpredictable.
You are right that babies born at this time would have a low chance of survival, but such late litters can and do happen so you are right to be concerned about the prospect. As it is, I would say you’re doing a lot to support them, so keep an eye on them, let us know how they are doing and enjoy having them around. You can call BPHS on the numbers provided if you have an urgent or emergency situation, but it sounds like your hogs are pretty happy at the moment. They are odd creatures in that they are solitary but often fairly tolerant of other hedgehogs, so it’s fascinating watching them interact.30th August 2021 at 8:16 pm #33469
Hi Alex 4003
If the hog does produce hoglets too late in the year they may need to be overwintered by a hog carer. That’s putting the horse before the cart a bit, but if you should find yourself in a situation when it is very cold and there are very small hoglets around, you could find your nearest hog carer (you can get contact details of your nearest carer by ringing the top number bottom left of this page) and take their advice. They will be more familiar with the weather situation in your area.
Hog courtship could only last a few hours. Hogs are fairly promiscuous and females have apparently been known to mate with more than one male in a night and also have more than one father for the same litter of young.3rd September 2021 at 7:32 pm #33704
Thank you so much for your fantastic information and support. I have set out a couple of shallow bowls of water in different places and they do use it. Last night the 2nd hedgehog started gathering the hay from the 2nd hog house to make its own nest under a raised flower bed. Obviously doesn’t like my DIY skills!. The original hedgehog is still gathering hay to take into that hog house. So I’ll ensure water and food is available throughout winter just in case they need it.
Thank you again. Much appreciated 😀3rd September 2021 at 11:04 pm #33708
That’s lovely to hear Alex4003! Under a raised flowerbed sounds pretty cosy to me, you never know, you might get another hog come along and take a shine to the house! Keep us posted on how they are doing, and when they seem to start their hibernations.4th September 2021 at 1:47 am #33721
Did you find both are now using the feeding station, or is one still not eating the food you leave for them?25th September 2021 at 10:56 pm #34160
Both hedgehogs are using the feeding station every night now. The 2nd hedgehog got rained out of its carefully crafted hole…wee shame. However, the next night I saw it was taking hay I left out, and carrying it into the house I built. Well pleased as I know it will be warm and dry in there. A couple of weeks ago I caught footage of 3 hedgehogs in the same shot….um…do I get another house? It seems to be coming in every 3/4 nights to get food, so I’m assuming it has made a place for itself somewhere. Still, I am worrying about it since the weather is starting to turn.26th September 2021 at 12:31 am #34162
Good to hear the hogs are using the feeding station and the hog box. It wouldn’t do any harm to have another box, if you have the space for it. Some hogs do also change nests during hibernation time, so a spare is always useful. One of the problems for the hogs is finding natural places where they can build their hibernation nests, these days. But hog boxes seem to fit the bill.
As important as a potential nesting site (i.e. a hog box) is loads of material around for them to make the nests inside the boxes. Medium sized leaves are their preferance and long grasses which they can weave a bit. But the third hog may have found somewhere else to make a nest. Hogs do cover a fair distance – some males apparently up to 2 miles a night.
Good luck hope all goes well for the hogs. Happy hog watching!26th September 2021 at 5:12 pm #34170
Another box is in the process of being made, just in case the third one wants to relocate or as you say, one of the other two want to change during winter. So much responsibility!. The garden has a couple of trees, one of them a Holly tree so there are plenty of leaves and I leave out hay in various places for them to hunt and find too, which they do. There are two feeding stations now which are used every night and I also scatter a bit of dried hedgehog food under the dropped leaves which they seem to find. So hopefully they will all be ok over winter. Thanks for the advice and info. Much appreciated 😀26th September 2021 at 7:56 pm #34176
That’s great re. the hog house.
I’m not sure the hogs would like the holly leaves so much. In a well built nest, they layer the leaves like tiles, several layers thick, which is waterproof even if not inside a hog house. I’m not sure that would work with holly. But hopefully they can make good use of the other leaves.
A hog here has recently made a nest and has been using a fair amount of green material as well. I saw him on video tugging at various plants! But he was very keen on the piles of long (ornamental) grasses which I cut and left in a pile for him. Very funny watching him carrying them – looked like an enormously long moustache!
Good luck to the hogs there. Hope hibernation goes well.7th October 2021 at 7:33 am #34323
Hi Nic, last night is the first time I haven’t seen them out. I put a long piece of hay diagonally across the entrances so know they stayed in but it was very wet and cold. It’s supposed to be 20 degrees here today so they may come out again. As for bedding, there is plenty of hay left around in various places under the tree as well as in empty plant pots (to keep it dry) that they have been taking,. Also long cut grass I left in piles but they’ve ignored that. When hibernating, do they just go in and that’s it until spring? Or will they periodically come out for water and food? Thanks for taking the time,… 😀7th October 2021 at 11:26 am #34325
Don’t worry if they don’t use all the material you leave out now. They might feel in need of it later on and it’s good to give them a choice.
Hibernation can be a bit variable. Some hogs – mostly hoglets I’ve heard about so far – decide not to hibernate at all. Although the ones I have seen seem to, perhaps, slow down a bit and spend more time napping between snacks. But it wouldn’t surprise me with the way the climate is these days, and other factors, if that sort of thing doesn’t happen more often.
But hogs have long been known to change nest during the hibernation period, so will need other sites where they can make nests – and materials, of course. The fat reserves they lay down should allow for short periods of activity during the hibernation period.
What triggers hibernation is not fully understood, so it may not be only the temperature which causes them to venture out again. So it’s best to leave water always available (all day every day) and some people continue to leave some food out. If you notice a hog is around, I would offer food again if you have stopped (not too close to the hibernation nest, in case it attracts predators). I tend to leave my cameras running all winter as well, in case anyone is out and about. Then food can be offered the next night, in case. I also leave food out for at least a week after I’ve seen the last hog. But some hogs will pretty much disappear until the Spring – as far as we’re concerned.
It’s a very worrying time for us hog lovers and probably the most naturally dangerous time for the hogs. They have to get the fat layers, just right – one type to keep their metabolism just ticking over and the other to raise their metabolism again when they emerge. That’s why it’s important they are able to get sufficient good quality food prior to hibernation. That doesn’t mean fat – just their normal diet which they convert to the particular types of fat they need. But also that they are not disturbed whilst hibernating which could cause them to use up too much of that precious fat.
But, such a delight in the Spring when hogs return again!
Good luck to the hogs there and everywhere for a safe hibernation.7th October 2021 at 6:54 pm #34365
Thanks so much for that information. I’ve seen some people say to check on them during the hibernation period every so often (unsure how often that is) to ensure they are ok by opening the lid and brushing their spines so you know they are still breathing and alive….is that advisable? I don’t think I’d feel comfortable doing that as it feels like it’s messing with nature ..?7th October 2021 at 7:51 pm #34367
I agree with you – it doesn’t sound a good idea at all to be opening boxes and stroking spines during hibernation, to me. Apart from anything else it would be upsetting the temperature levels in the nest but could also cause the hogs to arouse from hibernation and waste some of its energy. Energy which it will need for increasing its metabolic rate at the end of hibernation.8th October 2021 at 7:20 am #34372
That’s what I thought. I’m still putting up the trail cams and leaving out a bit of dried food in the feeding station just in case, fresh water too of course. There is the spare hog house as well, if any of them need to relocate. It’s going to be a long nervous wait for spring! Thank you so much for all your help and guidance. It has been much appreciated 😀
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