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Winter Hedgehogs

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Winter Hedgehogs

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    We feed our hedgehogs all year round and they stopped coming Just after November 5th.
    In the bad frost 5th Jan we had one come in the night and have a good feed.
    Then from yesterday 17th Jan we had three and last night another one!
    SO i am guessing they are waking up.


    How interesting Jane. Do you think they will hibernate again, or stay awake from now? Has it been mild weather lately where you are? I’m new to all this and haven’t followed hedgehog behaviour through a winter before so excuse the questions as I’m not sure what to look out for. I always think of January as possibly the bitterest month weatherwise usually, but maybe the wildlife know more about global warming than I do !

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    Hi Jane Lappage

    That’s interesting. You might find that those, or some of them continue with hibernation. Hogs do sometimes wake up part way through and even make new nests, but continue with hibernation. But I would continue to put out food and water for them and they can make their own decision. But it is a bit early for them to come out of hibernation, normally. Normally the males are first to come out of hibernation and it is usually more like March.

    If you see them out during the day, at all, they may need help from a carer/rehabilitator, so look out for them. If so, you can find the number of your nearest ones from BHPS on 01584 890801

    Good luck to you and hogs.


    I’ve been feeding hedgehogs for several years now, and about 5 years ago, I did have one that came right throughout the winter. I suspected he was living next door, and unlike in the summer, when he would come to the feeding station several times during the night, he would only make one visit for a nibble and a good long drink. I couldn’t believe how much he drank some nights, even though the water must have been ice cold! Last summer, I think I had a couple of regular visitors and I continued to put food out into November until the temperatures dropped and it was obvious they’d stopped coming. I live in rural Lincolnshire and on Tuesday night, I decided to put some food out as we were forecast a milder night, and it had disappeared in the morning! So last night, I put some more out together with my camera, and Hedgie appeared at 2am. He didn’t eat all the food so obviously isn’t starving!

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    Hi Patricia

    Some hogs do decide not to hibernate at all. Mostly youngsters, I suspect. They don’t seem too bothered by the cold, but the ones here have usually made use of the nearby hog boxes to have naps in between snacks – probably helps them warm up a bit, too!

    The newly appeared hog, as those where Jane is, may have emerged mid-hibernation and may resume hibernation. But it’s a good idea to keep leaving food (and most importantly water) out in case they decide to stay up now for the rest of winter. Another possibility, of course, is that it is a non-hibernating hog who has been getting it’s food from elsewhere until now – in which case might welcome another source of food. I suspect if they are planning on resuming hibernation, they may not eat much – sufficient ‘fuel’ maybe having already been built in before hibernation to allow for an occasional emergence, mid hibernation. But it’s really important to leave water available for hogs all day every day, including winter.


    After we had snow last Saturday in Clacton, our hogs are hibernating, have checked when we could get out in the back garden, as I left them some food just in case they woke up. Hopefully they may come out when it gets milder.


    Here we are in the middle of February north east of England and it seems my visiting hogs decided not to hibernate. I usually stop feeding in December when food hasn’t been touched for about 1 week but have had to continue putting food out this year although they don’t seem too hungry as some nights only a little of the food has gone, other nights more. Looks like I will be carrying on straight through to spring this year.


    Do you keep food under cover, as we discovered one night late last autumn, that a cat was in fact helping itself. We had always left food out in the open, and observed the hedgehogs devouring it but as last year was the first time we had ever encountered hedgehogs, I’m thinking this year we should devise some sort of cat-proof feeding shelter. Not our cats, I hasten to add, but the neighbour has two.

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    Hi Heatherhock

    Unfortunately cats are a perennial problem eating the hog food – usually other people’s cats!

    You will find loads of mentions of various schemes to keep cats from the food.

    One simple way that works with some cats and still enables you to see the hogs is to use a fairly large sheet of perspex type material on top of bricks, or earth filled flower pots (weighed down by bricks or more pots). It can easily be cleared during the day. You might need to adjust the height. I use a variety of 3 litre and 2 litre pots.

    Sadly some cats still manage to get under, but not all. But you can make it more difficult by putting obstacles opposite the spaces the hogs can through. Hogs can get through tighter turns, being that much shorter. But cats can get through much smaller gaps than most people imagine. i.e one cat here crawls right on its belly, grabs a mouthful of food and then exits to eat it! (seen on camera) Not all cats are quite so enterprising so it’s worth a try.

    Alternatively if you have a hog box, you could put bricks in the ‘corridors’ to lower the height – based on the principle that it’s harder for cats to turn and flatten themselves downwards at the same time. Some cats can get into most commercial boxes I’ve seen.

    Good luck. I hope you find something that works.

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    p.s. Strategically placed shallow trays of water can also help with the perspex version. The cats aren’t so keen on getting their belly’s wet – whereas hogs don’t seem too bothered about getting wet. Hogs will walk right through water saucers if they happen to be in the way of where they want to go!


    I was so relieved to read of others who have hedgehogs who haven’t hibernated this year. We had two regulars in the summer and one of them just hasn’t hibernated at all. I have a camera trained on the feeding house and it has been out at -4C or -5C . It is large and looks healthy with no sign of ticks. I have continued to put out food and water in a designated wooden feeding house and it only missed one night. I do have two sleeping houses in the garden so I suspect (hope) that it is sleeping in one near the feeder so doesn’t travel far. Last night they both visited though the weather has now turned mild.

    I was so pleased to read that there is ongoing research into whether feeding in winter discourages hibernation as I was concerned that I might be doing more harm that good by continuing to put out food.

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    Hi Lindsay

    Yes, interesting research, indeed. Although I’m not surprised that there was more activity in the gardens where food was supplied. But that doesn’t necessarily prove that it was because the food was there that they didn’t hibernate in the first place. Just that those that didn’t hibernate would be more likely to congregate where there was food available. Whether food being available encourages them not to hibernate might be difficult to prove one way or the other. But it will be interesting to find out whether it really is mostly youngsters who are not hibernating – which from anecdotal evidence sounds as if is the case. But anecdotal evidence isn’t always correct.

    I tend to leave food for at least a couple of weeks after the last hog has disappeared. Most years all have hibernated and only two different years (a substantial minority of the total years) have any hogs decided not to. One each time. From that (admittedly very small sample) the food being available did not make any difference to their choice. But they were on both occasions that year’s hoglets who chose not to hibernate.

    But yes, when I have had non-hibernators here, they have been out and about and seemingly unphased by even colder temperatures than you mention. The only days they missed visiting was when there was thicker snow than we normally get. When they could get through they returned. They both continued to grow through the winter, so that by the time their contemporaries (who did hibernate) returned the non-hibernators were quite a bit larger than them.

    Glad to hear the hog there is doing well. There are reports that some of the hibernators are returning already, so he/she may have company again soon.

    Good luck and happy hog watching.


    Thanks Nic. I’m pleased to report that hedgehog number two has now come out of hibernation in the last few days and both are a good size, one slightly bigger than the other. They appeared to be close together last night on camera so I wonder if this is will result in mating or is it too early?.

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    Hi Lindsay

    It is a bit early for mating. But that is partly because the males normally return from hibernation earlier. I suspect hogs which have been over-wintered may be confusing the old hog ways, in that female hogs who’ve been over-wintered may be released earlier than the hibernating females would have naturally returned. Also there is the non-hibernators – so it’s possible that some hogs may mate earlier. Although, if it is mainly hoglets who have chosen not to hibernate it may be a bit soon for them. So things are becoming complicated!

    But the good news is that you have 2 hogs there – that’s brilliant! If they are both quite young it wouldn’t be so surprising that they were close together – hoglets seem to like sharing and they may not have grown out of that yet.

    Hopefully some more hogs will eventually appear, so fingers crossed for some hoglets later on, one way or another!

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