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January hedgehogs

11th January 2023

January is the time when hedgehogs are hibernating, but sometimes you may see one out and about. Although hibernation generally lasts for around four months, hedgehogs can wake during this time. They usually have a quick snack and a drink then re-enter hibernation.

Photo by Anna Hoffmann

It’s thought that hibernation is triggered by environmental conditions (including weather getting colder), and subsequent lack of natural insect prey. There hasn’t been any research looking at whether leaving supplementary food out helps or hinders the hibernation process. But extra food may be aiding the survival of second-born litters who may not put on enough weight to survive hibernation. Because of this, we encourage feeding over winter. Find out more here.

Photo by Steve Jones

Therefore, if you see a hedgehog out and about after dark at this time of year, providing food and water is likely to help them. If the hedgehog looks ill or underweight, it may need to be rescued. Please contact BHPS who can put you in touch with a nearby independent carer/rescue centre. Please note that hedgehogs are best left alone and not handled unless they are in need of help.

The end of hibernation depends on weather, temperature and location and varies each year. Mild weather may be a factor in hedgehogs’ behaviour.

Emerging hogs should be supplied with plenty of food and water, as their fat reserves will have been depleted over hibernation and they will need to build them back up. Supplementary feeding can help with this.

Find out more about hibernation.