There continues to be plenty of hedgehog activity but the nesting house has not been used since the 5th October. I have however seen a hedgehog in the garden gathering nesting material.
As I can’t imagine that it is taking the material very far, coupled with the hedgehog regularly turning up in my garden as soon as it becomes dark, the conclusion seems to be that this individual is building a winter hibernation nest in my neighbours garden, just beyond the fence hole. This would be close to the food I supply in the feed station and makes use of the rather wild area at the back of the neighbours garden.
I’ve been doing additional reading on hedgehog activity and this has provided a few explanations on the nesting habits. It seems that my hedgehog house was been used as a summer/day nesting site of which the hedgehogs will have several. Apparently a male will tend to use a different site every night whilst a female will use the same location for around a week. This would make sense of the regular behaviour I’ve witnessed with the house being used for around a week and then abandoned. It would also confirm that the majority of users, and certainly the last occupant was indeed a female.
Despite using a variety of nest sites during the summer each hedgehog will only make and use one unique winter nest for hibernation. As we are now nearly at the point of winter hibernation, last minute nest enhancements aside, it appears that my hedgehog house has unfortunately not been selected for use this year.
My additional hedgehog reading material, book below, has been very illuminating and I’m afraid to say that it has highlighted a few of my mistakes.
Apologies readers but I need to correct a few errors.
In a recent Blog Post I talked about hedgehog teeth and I thought that these were being used to eat snails from their shells. Sorry about that but I was wrong, it turns out that hedgehogs do not eat snails, at all. Their teeth, despite being fearsome, are not up to it.
I had also been finding acorns in the hedgehog house, which I did honestly think was a big odd, but I considered that maybe this was forming part of the hedgehog diet. See Hedgehog Log entry for the 18th October. Wrong again.
To be very clear hedgehogs are nearly 100% carnivores, mainly eating slugs, worms and beatles.
What I now believe was happening was that the eaten out snail shells and acorns were signs of a rat. I had seen one darting around at the end of the garden, including in the hedgehog feeding station, at the end of September and early October. It looks like this rat was using the hedgehog feeding station as a sheltered location in which to eat and probably rest.
Rats do take snails as a regular source of food and evidently they do have the teeth to deal with the shells. In addition to the hedgehog food and shelters my garden is full or snails, so interesting enough for this rodent.
Since early October I’ve not seen any further evidence of the rat on any of the cameras, including the one installed inside the feed station, and I’ve stopped finding snail shells.
It seems to be the logical explanation.
Certainly for me this blog is a learning curve and I apologise for the mistakes along the way. I’ll try and be as factual as possible and make corrections as I go. It certainly confirms the conclusion that with nature the more you look the more you realise how little you actually know.
The other conclusion is that if you find snail shells looking like this in your garden, you’ve probably got a rat!