Sunday, 15 November 2015

Hedgehogs in November - by BHPS

Hedgehogs will still be building up their weights for hibernation.  When will they actually hibernate?  The best answer to this question is - when they are ready.  Some may even be in hibernation now, others not until next month.  November seems to be the time when many will decide to hibernate.

I'm sure you'll remember from previous year’s publicity to take care when piling up leaves and garden waste ready for a bonfire – be it for Bonfire Night or just a general burn.  It's always best to move the pile on the day it is to be burnt, unless you have a special bonfire cage or bin that hedgehogs cannot access.

If you still have any small hedgehogs regularly visiting your garden you could catch them and check their weights.  Mark each one with a spot of nail varnish or quick drying paint on a few of their prickles (different hedgehogs can be marked in different places).  Then 4-5 nights later catch again and weigh – it must be putting on weight, if not it will need to be rescued.  Small hedgehogs will need help to get up to a hibernation weight.  However the help can range from just continuing to feed and monitor weights in your garden to being taken indoors and cared for. 

At the time of writing this I don’t know whether we're going to have an early cold winter or a mild one so it is difficult to give advice now on which hedgehogs need to be taken into care.  Obviously those out in the day are in trouble and need help.  For any other hedgehogs the best advice is to call a local hedgehog rehabilitator, they know the local conditions, but please, if possible, weigh the hedgehog before contacting a rescue centre as the weight helps them give the best advice.

It is not just the cold that is a problem for hedgehogs at this time of year but also the wet.  They need a dry place to make their nests and dry bedding with which to make the nest.  Providing dry bedding eg leaves – perhaps in a compost bag – will help them make a cosy nest.  Also protecting their food with a feeding station means they can feed in the dry.

If you need advice or find a sick or injured hedgehog contact us or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society who can give general advice (01584 890801).   For information about helping hedgehogs at this time of year visit the BHPS web site and go to the Autumn Juvenile leaflet.