|Rescued hedgehog feeding of cat food|
Well it has been a funny old year for the hedgehogs. On the one hand the weather has been mild and has given many smaller hedgehogs a chance to fatten up and hibernate. On the other hand it has been very wet, this can mean that many hedgehogs will have used wet bedding to make their nests which is not ideal. In addition of course there has been lots of flooding and this may have had a dramatic effect on the hedgehogs living in or near those flooded areas.
If there are any mild spells at this time of year the male hedgehogs might be encouraged out of hibernation – the males seem to awake a little earlier than the females, although nothing is set in stone. If you are tempted into the garden in warmer weather do take care when tidying or moving piles of leaves etc. especially if you know there have been hedgehogs in the garden in 2013.
Hedgehogs coming out of hibernation will be very thirsty – having not had a chance to drink for several months, and they will also be hungry and in a poor condition. Give them a helping hand by putting out hedgehog food and water for them (click on links for a suitable hog feeder and water bowl). Keep ponds topped up too although many will be full anyway following the rain. If you are not sure whether there are hedgehogs visiting, rather than waste the food, you can put out dry biscuits for them (hedgehog or cat biscuits would be fine), this can be left out for some time before it needs to be thrown away, rather than the wet foods that go off quickly.
If you have a hedgehog house you could place a small piece of screwed up paper in the entrance – this will be brushed aside as the hedgehog comes out of the box so you will know it is awake. Also if you know your box is empty you can use the paper to tell whether someone has started to use it.
If you are concerned about any hedgehog that you see contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful). Out of hours you will be directed to other numbers but whatever the time, with patience, you should be able to speak to a real person. For more information about hedgehogs and how to help check out our pages at the top of this blog.