Hedgehogs After Dark: Nursing and hoglet interaction
15th June 2020
For the sixth week of Hedgehogs After Dark, we’re looking at the interactions between mother hedgehogs and their hoglets.
Hedgehogs give birth in June and July, and they have an average litter size of four or five young (though it can be as many as seven). However, they usually only wean two or three successfully. The mother is liable to desert or even eat hoglets if she is disturbed, so do take care if you think there’s some in the garden. Sometimes she will carry them in her mouth to a new location – a behaviour that can be seen in the video below.
Young hedgehogs will leave the nest when they are around three to four weeks old to go on foraging trips with their mother. After around ten days of foraging with their mother the young will wander off on their own.
Females are capable of having a second litter in late September or October, but these young are less likely to survive the winter. Experts think it is unlikely that female hedgehogs in Britain can successfully rear two litters in a season. Hoglets from the second litter need to put on weight very quickly to prepare for hibernation, and are often unable to put on enough weight to survive the period. These late litters can lead to ‘autumn orphans’ still foraging around well into winter sometimes in the day time and often looking underweight. If you’re ever concerned about a hedgehog, you can contact BHPS for advice.