Hibernating Hedgehogs

After a period of no hedgehog sightings in the garden it seems safe to confirm that the hibernation period has started for the Winter. At least for my local hogs.

The last time I recorded any activity in the garden was the night of the 28-29th October, So I’m going to call 29th October as the start of the hibernation. This pricked my interest as I can see that it is much earlier than last year.

I’ve been keeping more systematic records of the hedgehog activity in the garden since September 2020, more than 12 months now. Although It is very basic information across a short time period, it does give something to analyze.

Firstly I made a little graph of the nightly activity, the number of hedgehog visits per night, to compare with last year.

This shows clearly the earlier start date for hibernation, 29th October this year compared to 16th November in 2020. I’ve no idea if this is significant or within the range of a normal fluctuation. I know that the hedgehogs need to attain a certain weight, I’ve read 500g, before they can safely hibernate with confidence that they’ll make it through the Winter. If they are lighter they will not have enough reserves and will probably, unfortunately, die.

Maybe my intense hedgehog feeding regime has ensured adequate weigh gain much earlier.

I know also that weather may be a factor, hedgehogs become less active as the temperatures drop. For this reason I note that lowest overnight temperatures in my records and again I’ve compared this with 2020.

Since the Start of October the general trend is that 2021 is colder than 2020. The average lowest nightime temperature this year is 7oC compared to nearly 9oC last year. In addition we’ve already seen the first night below freezing, whereas last year this did not happen until the 8th December. So maybe the colder weather is also a factor in the earlier start to hibernation, but really I’m only guessing.

What I do know is that there isn’t a hedgehog hibernating in my hedgehog house. Just like last year it remains resolutely unoccupied, it’s obviously not an ideal Winter home.

Finally I’ve now taken the hedgehog feed station out of the garden for the Winter. It won’t be used and it really needed a clean inside and out. For this I use a type of disinfectant, the sort for cleaning pet  food bowls, as this removes any mites.

It will be nice and clean for next year when the hedgehogs emerge from hibernation, hopefully well but certainly very hungry.

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