(A Gardeners Friend)
Scientific Name Erinaceus europaeus
Description Adults are between 22 - 28cms in length, and are covered with up to 6,000 sharp spines upon their back and flanks, and a course brown fur covers their face and underside.
Habitat Hedgerows, pastures, woodlands, parks and gardens. Urban and suburban spaces are becoming very important refuges for them.
Natural diet Ground dwelling invertebrates, especially worms, beetles, spiders, grubs and slugs.
Habits They are a nocturnal creature that hibernates through the winter. Solitary except for mothers with young. If they feel threatened they curl into a ball using their sharp spines to protect them.
Breeding 4-5 young (hoglets) are generally born in the Spring after a one month gestation period. They weigh between 11 - 25g at birth and are cared for only by their mother. It takes approx 8 weeks to wean them. Sometimes a second litter may be born in mild weather, though these may struggle to gain sufficient weight/fat reserves to survive the winter. Hedgehogs become sexually mature at around one year of age, and can live for up to ten years, though it is usually less than four years in the wild.
Conservation Status Hedgehogs are widespread throughout the UK,but there is evidence that they are declining quite drastically. Surveys have shown that populations have dropped by almost 50% over the last 25 years. Indications in England and Wales show that this decline is still progressing, and if nothing is done to help them they could well be extinct from some areas by the year 2050.
This massive decline has led to the hedgehog becoming a UK Priority Species and thankfully conservation measures are being put into place.
(Thank you to Hedgehog Street for the above information)
I thought it was about time I made a Hedgehog page!
I'll try to add information and photographs as time allows, but to start it off here's a 3 minute video I took of Winifrid as she emerged for her nightly feast taken on 4th May 2012. It seemed she was a bit itchy at the time ;o) and chomping on sultanas, her second favourite food - mealworms being the first.
Wilf doesn't come out until it is dark, so I doubt I will capture him on video, but never say never eh?
The British hedgehog is in serious decline and urgently needs our help.
Below are some simple, and mostly free things we can do to help.
The first thing we can all do is to stop using slug pellets, if a hedgehog eats slugs that contain the poison it WILL make the hog (bird or other creature) seriously ill and in a lot of cases it will cause it's death, there are lots of natural alternative remedies. Please read about sweet little Charlie for a point in case.
Leave a wild area, no matter how small.
If you use pea/garden netting keep it 12" off the ground as the hogs can get easily tangled and distressed and injured trying to free themselves. If not found they would starve to death. (The same would apply to tennis nets!)
Keep drains covered as they can easily fall down them and drown. (The hog rescue centre had two bought in within hours of each other the day before I write this)
Garden ponds and pools can be death traps too if an unfortunate hog falls in, though they are good swimmers they need a ramp (or more on a larger body of water) to enable them to scramble out. Scrunched up chicken wire over the edge of the pond would be a good aid, or half submerged bricks or pebbles. I keep my pond netted because of the herons taking fish but it is raised high enough for the hogs to drink safely from it.
I've just found out that the log roll edging can trap an unwary hogs leg too, so if you do have it check please each morning for stranded hogs.
They are very inquisitive creatures and if refuse bags are on the floor with a chance of a free feed they will get into them. There are a number of things which could harm or trap them, some of which are empty food cans, yogurt pots, the plastic 'rings' that hold together beer and pop cans should ALWAYS be snipped to open each ring before disposing of them. If a hog got into the bag even if it wasn't hurt or trapped could be literally thrown away.
Keep old paint and oil cans safely stored with lids ON
Make sure that garden sheds, garages, greenhouses and out buildings have their doors firmly shut at night as hogs will go in there and may get fastened in and starve to death.
If you have dogs, please keep them under control at night as they will attack and kill hogs. (A most distressing thing that I witnessed with a savage stray dog that got into a neighbours garden, despite our attempts we were too late to save the hog.)
Garden strimmers - do I need say more? If you must use one PLEASE carefully check the area to be strimmed first, they inflict terrible injuries :o(
Compost heaps. Mine is in an enclosed box, but many of you will have a more open type. By nature they develop heat to make the compost and are full of all the delicious things that hogs eat. They do nest and hibernate in them. so please DON'T stick your garden fork in there, but gently tease them open to turn them, if you do find a hog in there you could carefully recover it and keep a careful watch out. If babies are involved contact British Hedgehog Preservation Society for help.
Build a log pile. Hogs love to eat invertebrates! My log piles are built around the
three four hog houses in my garden.
No. 3 newly installed and awaiting logs!
If you'd like to make your own hog house click for instructions, sorry but I don't have instructions for mine as we 'designed' them ourselves with an internal
If you have to replace a wall or fence on the boundary of your garden leave a 4" square gap (or two) so that hogs can freely enter and leave your garden :o) my gap under the fence is shown in the photo above just to the left of the house... See HERE for more information.
*If you do find an injured/underweight or sick hog pick it up in an old towel and place it in a deep box (as they are good climbers) and place in a warm, dry place until you can find help (not in an outbuilding as it will be too cold.). You should also place a hot water bottle (an old plastic drink bottle will do) wrapped in another towel to give heat as a sick hog will more than likely be suffering with hypothermia. Please ensure there is an area without heat so that they can move away if they get too hot.
Please note if you see a hedgehog out in daylight there IS something wrong, it WILL need help.
Visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society web site for your nearest rescue centre. Remember that these centres are all voluntary and would benefit from even a small donation to help these endearing little creatures.
Finding hoglets or disturbing a nest.
If you find a hoglet leave it alone and look carefully for an adult nearby. If you cannot find an adult and are sure it/they are abandoned please contact the (BHPS) British Hedgehog Preservation Society
If you accidentally disturb a nest, carefully replace the nesting material and watch to make sure they are safe and the adult stays with the little ones, if the start to scatter seek advice from the BHPS (link above) or check for a local rescue centre on the internet.
Hedgehogs generally hibernate from November to April dependant on food supplies and the weather. If you find any hedgehog from October onwards please gently capture and weigh it. It is imperative to be a minimum of 600g, but heavier is better. If it is below this weight, capture it* (see above) please contact a rescue centre through the link above for the BHPS, who will take it in and keep it until it is safe to release - or in some events will over winter them. (This obviously costs money to feed and look after the hog, all rescue centres are charities, please remember to give a donation - no matter how small, every penny helps.)
Not all hogs have fleas, and those that do will not bite humans or other animals or live in your home. (I know this from experience, as I'm very prone to irritating flea bites but have NEVER had a hog flea bite me.)
ASK YOUR POSTMAN
NOT to drop any dreaded elastic bands on the floor, and to re-use them. These (and any other elastic bands) can injure or kill hedgehogs and other wild animals. Royal Mail get through 2 MILLION red elastic bands A DAY. BHPS have a 'Post for Postie' campaign - members are asked to hand the postcard to their postie, or send it to their local sorting office. Postcards are available for non-members too, simply send an A5 SAE to BHPS, POST FOR POSTIES, Hedgehog House, Dhustone, Ludlow, SY8 3PL.”Royal Mail say that they are designed to biodegrade quickly - I have ones I've picked up over two years old, still in perfect condition.
There is a link HERE to view that shows what these bands can do to hedgehogs, the one pictured was saved, but it is distressing.
If you have children how about asking them and their friends to pick up any they find? If you collect a lot contact your local sorting office and point out the problem.
When you dispose of the bands that tie together cans please cut each circle as a matter of course, when discarded wholly they can cause alarming injuries and even death to wildlife.
How do you know if there are hogs visiting your garden?
If you have badgers visiting, I'm pretty sure you won't have hogs as badgers do prey upon them.
side of a fence, and yes it is as loud! Another country name for them is a Snufflepig :o)
You may find 2.5"-2" (3-5cm) shiny black droppings around the garden (this is how I discovered them)
(sorry, not exactly pretty but it shows what to look for. Err, and no - they don't use toilet paper!)
You can easily encourage them back by putting down plenty of drinking water, I use the little dishes for under flower pots - do NOT be tempted to put down milk, as they are lactose intolerant and it will make them seriously, and maybe fatal.
Meat cat food in jelly not gravy, and certainly NO FISH flavours. Fish causes brittle bones in hogs as it is not a natural part of their diet. Also meat flavoured dried cat food.
Dried fruit, I find sultanas are a firm favourite, sunflower hearts, crushed NOT WHOLE peanuts, (whole or halved peanuts can and will get stuck in their mouths and can either choke or cause starvation. Then of course dried mealworms, which will be hoovered up at an astounding rate! (Please don't feed them exclusively as they get addicted to them and they do not have all the right proteins and could actually cause problems.) They will also eat chopped cooked chicken and grated cheese. You can buy packaged hog food, which I have found to be overpriced and sometimes contains things they just don't eat like papaya!
It is best, once they are visiting regularly to make a feeding station for them so that cats foxes and other marauders can't steal their food ;o) Mine is a simple affair made from an inexpensive deep see-through stack and store box.
I chose see through for photo opportunities ;o)
I cut a 4"x 4" hole in the corner of a 'narrow' end and stuck duct tape around to cover sharp edges,
(Hogs can read I find!)
Then line it with newspaper (invaluable as it's easy to throw away when soiled) and place in relevant (heavy) dishes of food, they will push the dishes around). Put water outside though as they are bound to walk in it and spill it. Place on the lid weighed down with a couple of half bricks and away you go.
(If you do start to feed them please leave food and water each night as they will come to rely upon it, ask a neighbour to help out of you are away.)
Hogs are messy feeders, obviously the feeding area and dishes need to be kept clean, I use a 50/50 mix of distilled vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and plenty of kitchen roll!
Here's (a fairly clean and tidy) the morning after view.
Another option is to use one layer of house bricks as a wall with entrance/exit gaps in a square and cover with a light weight slab, slate or board.
There are excellent photos on the link to show just how easy this is :o)
Hoggie meets Sid -The beginning of a wonderful friendship!
replace the works 'at' and 'dot' with the symbols, as you wouldn't believe the amount of spam I get from this site :o(
Sadly, found too late to be saved. Poisoned by the results of slug pellets.