This month, Danielle from NatureSpy shares a guest blog post about our very own garden visitor; the hedgehog, and how we can take steps to ensure these curious creatures successfully make it through the colder autumn/winter months…
Hedgehogs hibernate through the coldest months of the year, like many mammals. Most of the time hedgehogs enter hibernation around October/November every year, however if the weather is still mild, they can sometimes be seen well into the winter months. Find out how you can help hedgehogs and other animals this autumn…
What is Hibernation?
Hibernation isn’t just an animal going to sleep. When the weather gets colder and food is scarce in winter, hedgehogs and other species’ slow down their metabolic processes and their body temperature drops to match their surroundings.
During this time they survive off the fat reserves they’ve built up in the weeks before, and may get up every now and again to forage – especially if they were unable to find enough food in advance.
In fact, a hedgehog who has steady access to food and a warm nest may not feel the need to hibernate at all.
How Can You Help?
Hedgehogs need to weigh a minimum of 600 grams to comfortably survive hibernation, and sometimes those who have been unable to find enough food or have gotten injured might need a little helping hand from you.
Unfortunately, like many visitors to your garden, these mammals are nocturnal and so can be a little difficult to spot.
Setting up a camera overnight can be a great way to keep an eye on the population and health of those sharing your backyard.
Nature Spy Shop is a non-profit organisation which sells a range of cameras and night vision equipment, perfect monitoring and documenting the activities of hogs.
Once you know a little more about who lives in your garden, it’ll be easier to know what you can do to help. For example, tinned cat or dog food – or even dry dog food – is a great supplement at times when there’s less food readily available; to help fatten up both stockpiling hedgehogs, and hedgehogs who wake up throughout winter looking for more food.
Simply leaving out a bowl of food and water can go a long way to helping preserve populations throughout the winter.
Hedgehogs also need somewhere safe to nest, this could include making their winter bed under sheds, amongst wood piles, and in long grass, so it’s vital that you take time to check for animals before lighting a bonfire or cutting the grass.
If you do come across an injured hedgehog…
Wearing thick gardening gloves, carefully pick them up by scooping it up around the middle, and place them down in a newspaper lined cardboard box. Phone a rescue centre and fill some shallow bowls with water and food. If, however the hedgehog is healthy then leave him alone – although a bowl of food and water in your garden will always be appreciated!
Hedgehogs are a gardeners best friend, give them a safe place to nest and they’ll return the favour by eating pests like slugs, snails and caterpillars. Set up a camera and you can catch up on all of these shy critters’ night-time capers!
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- Read more about the ‘Keep the ban’ fox hunting demo
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- Join Brian May as he stands up for British wildlife