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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.