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Hedgehog lifecycle

Photo by Hedgehog Champion Liza Griffiths

Photo by Hedgehog Champion Liza Griffiths

 January and February

Over winter, most hedgehogs will be hibernating.  They may wake a little during their hibernation, but will remain inactive unless disturbed or when the weather has turned extremely mild.

March

Hedgehogs will begin to emerge from hibernation, having potentially lost 1/3 of their body weight during their rest. This is the perfect time to start putting out supplementary food and water as they will be extremely thirsty and hungry.

April

Most hedgehogs will be active and building up the body fat lost over the winter. At the same time, they will be scouting for suitable nesting sites – so it’s well worth building log piles or building/buying a hedgehog house if no natural materials are available.

May

And so begins the mating season. Keep an ear out for loud snuffling and grunting noises at night, it may be hedgehogs mating! Males will circle around the female, sometimes for hours, trying to persuade her to mate. After mating, the male leaves, taking no part in rearing the young.

June

The female will be pregnant for around four weeks and normally births a litter of up to 6 or 7 hoglets.  The mother will forage and return to feed her young while they are are too small to leave the nest.

P7129127 - Large male trying to woo hoglet

July

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.

August

Soon the hoglets will become independent of their mother and start to explore alone. These animals will live solitary lives without encountering their siblings.

September

Some mature females may have mated for a second time and thus repeating the events of the last couple of months, however, with their natural diet becoming scarcer in the autumn, late litters will struggle to gain the fat reserves necessary for hibernation and need our help.

October

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.

Hedgehog