This week I’ve been lucky enough to see something very special, and a first for me, I’ve been watching a family of baby hedgehogs ‘hoglets’.
My first sighting was a few nights ago and as the little one was out early I was lucky enough to get a colour video.
This was a single visitor and I’m not sure how many hoglets there actually are. The maximum I’ve seen at any one time is two, which would represent quite a small litter size, so there may be more. They’ve been roaming quite widely across the garden although at this age they won’t be independent, they’ll still be coming back to the nest for the day. On a couple of nights I’ve sat out watching them run around and they’ve been very unconcerned by my presence. I even had one hoglet get so close that it touched my foot, a real ‘moment’.
Seeing them next to the adult parent gives a good idea of the relative size of the hoglet.
The hoglets should leave the maternal nest around 4 weeks after birth, so this would give a birth date of early May. Then working back, as the gestation period for a pregnant female hedgehog is 4-6 weeks, the mating would have happened late March. As soon as it is pregnant the female starts to look for an preparing the nesting site, so this would be early April at the latest.
I don’t know if my hedgehog house is big enough for use as a nesting site for a pregnant female but by early April it was already occupied by a male, who wasn’t going to give it up. I did see the resident Male chase off a couple of other inquisitive hedgehogs, perhaps one of them was this female looking for a site.
As the hoglets are thoroughly exploring my garden I guess that the female must have used a natural nesting site quite close by. Luckily several of my neighbours leave lots of untidy leaf material in their gardens there is lots of potential in the immediate vicinity.
Mother and hoglets have also happily been eating the cat biscuits left out in the feed station, here she is heading in with one of the brood, another good example of the size difference between them.
The visits to the feed station also generated an interesting moment with a different adult hedgehog. In the video below Mother and one of the hoglets were feeding when an ‘intruding’ adult entered.
Initially the Mother defended the hoglet but I was surprised to see her leave the little one on it’s own in the face of the intruder. I thought that her defence would be a lot stouter.
In this case no harm came to the little hoglet. It balled itself up in the corner for a while before successfully making a quick exit.
I think that the family grouping will stay together for a few weeks. Hopefully they’ll keep using the garden and I would really like to get some footage of the extended family group, Mother and several hoglets together.