The hedgehog diaries
14th January 2021
January and February
Over winter, most hedgehogs will be hibernating. They may rouse from time to time during mild weather to forage for food or change nests. Check out our winter feeding advice if you think any are active. Any disturbance while hibernating could be extremely harmful.
Hedgehogs will begin to emerge from hibernation in spring, having potentially lost a third of their body weight. This is the perfect time to start putting out supplementary food and water as they’ll need it!
And so begins the mating season. Keep an ear out for loud snuffling and grunting noises at night, it may be hedgehogs courting! Males will circle around the female, sometimes for hours, trying to persuade her to mate. This is known as the mating carousel. After mating, the male leaves, taking no part in rearing the young.
Female hedgehogs will be pregnant for around four weeks and normally birth litters of 4 or 5 hoglets. The mother will forage and return to feed her young while they are are too small to leave the nest.
After three or four weeks the hoglets will join their mother on her foraging trips, quickly learning what is good to eat but still returning to the nest to take their mother’s milk as well.
Soon the hoglets will become independent of their mother and start to explore alone. These animals will live solitary lives without encountering their siblings.
Some mature females may have mated for a second time and are therefore repeating the events of the last couple of months. Sadly with their natural diet becoming scarcer in the autumn, late litters will struggle to gain the fat reserves necessary for hibernation and may need our help.
As the weather begins to get colder, adult hedgehogs will continue to eat as much as possible and begin building their nests ready for hibernation.
November – December
Most hedgehogs will have begun to hibernate during November and will normally remain in this state until March of the following year. Leaving a small amount of food out for hedgehogs will help any still active.