We’re already nearly into September. Before you know it, we’ll be straight into autumn and preparing ourselves for the cold winter months. For our spiky garden visitors, however, preparations for winter will be starting early as they get ready for hibernation. A Latin term meaning “to pass the winter”, it’s a regular yearly occurrence for many mammals to hide themselves away for the chilly period. This is an important period for a hedgehog’s survival. That’s why we’ve put together a few facts to help you understand hedgehog hibernation…
What is hedgehog hibernation?
It’s a common misconception that hibernation means hedgehogs sleep through the winter. In actuality, hedgehogs drop their body temperature to match their surroundings and enter a state of torpor, which is a kind of suspended animation. The reason they hibernate is because food sources are scarce throughout winter. They will hide themselves away until the weather gets warmer, where they will be able to forage for food again. Hibernation begins in October/November and ends in March/April.
How do hedgehogs prepare for hibernation?
Hedgehogs begin preparing for hibernation in late summer. During this time, they will try to get their weight over the 450g mark. As they will be conserving their energy through winter, hedgehogs will need to increase their body weight as much as possible. For this, they will spend their time before hibernation foraging for as much food as they can find. So if you’re looking to help out your prickly pals, make sure you regularly put out food and water for hedgehogs to help them build up their body weight.
Where do hedgehogs hibernate?
For their place of hibernation, hedgehogs will look for warm, secluded spots for their season of rest. Common areas found in your garden such as log piles, compost heaps and even under your shed can be used for hibernation spots. If you’d like to go that little step further, you can build your own hedgehog house in your garden. This will provide your local hoggies with a safe and secure place to hibernate. You should also make sure to never disturb hedgehogs during hibernation. Be sure not to clear any log piles or heaps of leaves where hedgehogs may be sleeping inside.
What happens during hibernation?
To state the obvious, hedgehogs won’t be out and about much during the hibernation period. However, on milder days during winter it is possible that hedgehogs can wake up early and look for a quick nibble before returning to hibernate. So even though you won’t need to put out food every day for hedgehogs, you should continue to put out water for wandering hogs.