Hedgehog Log – 2020

Sunday 12/07/20

Weather : Warm sunny weather, no rain.

Notes: Only one significant stay in the hedgehog house this week but for only the second time it was an all-day stay.

The Hedgehog arrived just before 06:00 on the 7th July and proceeded to stay. Interestingly again the hedgehog left the box during the day for a brief visit to the flower border. This time for around 20 minutes right in the middle of a very warm day, before returning and sleeping through to the evening.

After this there were no further stays in the box during the week.

As ever there were plenty of visits to the garden. Especially to the water dish which I try and keep topped up during these warms periods.

Apart from the Hedgehogs the most frequent visitor to the garden are domestic cats and there is a particular black cat that often takes the hedgehog food. It would be interesting to understand if the hedgehogs are at all bothered by the cats. This week I did get a moment with both on camera and although the cat appears to be dominant there doesn’t appear to be any particular tension.

Sunday 05/07/20

Weather : Warm this week, not as hot as previously, with a few rain showers.

Notes: Very slow this week in terms of hedgehog action. The hedgehog left the house last Sunday evening, after staying all day and since then I haven’t recorded any stays of any duration, night or daytime. I got a nice video of the Hedgehog leaving after his all day stay.

I was away a lot this week and I only left out food on a couple of nights in the house entrance. I have also noticed slugs appearing in the hedgehog box. Perhaps they are attracted by the food but it seems quite odd as they are an important part of the hedgehogs diet, I’m surprised I keep seeing them as they are likely being eaten.

During the week I have filmed hedgehogs in the garden but there definitely seems to be less activity, I have not seen two together for a couple of weeks and the number of visits per night is much lower. If the females are nesting and giving birth I assume that they would be less active and this perhaps could explain the situation.

Another indicator I look for to message hedgehog activity in the garden is poo or maybe I should say scat. Again there is much less at the moment although as a guide of what to look for I took the pictures below a few weeks ago showing a very good examples.

The very interested could spend the time to pick it apart as it can tell you what the hedgehogs have been eating.

Sunday 28/06/20

Weather : Very hot temperatures nearly all week, up to 35oC.

Notes: The week started slowly for hedgehog house action with only 1 short visit on the night of 21-22nd June.

Then last night there was a much longer visit with the hedgehog arriving into the house at around 04:35. It left briefly around 05:00 for twenty minutes or so before returning and then going back to sleep.

By the time it again stirred around 08:30 it was already light and so after a brief check outside the hedgehog decided to stay the whole day. As I write this it is still tucked up asleep in the box.

This is quite a moment as it is the first time that the house has been used by a hedgehog during the day.

Watching the hedgehog during the day is a very interesting first for me. They are very fidgety and do not stay still for long. Also surprisingly once during the morning it did leave the house, in daylight for a nose around the garden. It is quite rare and in general not a good sign if a hedgehog is out during the day. I found the following description in one of my nature books.

Healthy Hedgehogs aren’t usually seen during the day, but a nesting female may be spotted out on summer afternoons or early mornings, collecting bedding material or looking for food. However, a hedgehog that’s out in the daytime at other times of year, or one that isn’t lively and active, is probably in trouble.

It would be fantastic if this was a nesting female but I have the feeling that it may just have been a bit confused by it’s surroundings.

It will now be interesting to see if this visit is just a one-off or if the house will start to become more regularly used during the day.

However when considering that the box was only installed six weeks ago on the 16th May it is excellent progress to see it already in regular use.

Sunday 21/06/20

Weather : Cool weather for most of the week with a few rain showers.

Notes: The Hedgehog house continues to be used but only for short stays.

This week I got a little fed up with the cats eating the food left out so I started to place it in the entrance chamber of the hedgehog Box. I only placed food out for a couple of nights and these were the only times that the box was used. The times that I noted this week were.

Night of 17/06-18/06 – Stayed from 23:48-00:19 (41 minutes)

Night of 19/06-20/06 – Stayed from 00:52-01:26 (34 minutes)

Night of 19/06-20/06 – Stayed from 04:09-04:26 (17 minutes)

So at the moment what we have is a sort of Hedgehog feeding & napping station.

I’m still interested in identifying the different hedgehogs so the pictures I have from the visits this week are below.

There seems to be a more pronounced dark spot on the forehead in these photos. I have noticed previously that the marking can change so there is no guarantee that it is not the same animal but with markings changing over time.

In terms of hedgehog interaction I captured one interesting exchange from the week. Like the last week this doesn’t develop into violence but seems to be two hedgehogs thoroughly checking each other out. One animal is again much bigger than the other.

Again I would have understood this to be a type of courtship interaction.

Whether or not the hedgehogs use my box for nesting, we are now firmly in the time of year for the birth of baby hedgehogs. It will be interesting in the next weeks and months to see if any family groups with young hedgehogs visit the garden.

Sunday 14/06/20

Weather : Cool and overcast for most of the week with some heavy rain showers.

Notes : Several visits to the hedgehog house this week and it seems to be getting regular use. The pattern of activity is that the hedgehog will stop in for a short stay during the night, taking a nap in between feeding in the garden. A very typical visit from the week is shown in the video below.

The box was not used every night by the dates and times I noted were:

Night of 08/06-09/06 – Stayed from 23:37-00:14 (37 minutes)

Night of 10/06-11/06 – Stayed from 02:24-03:28 (64 minutes)

Night of 13/06-14/06 – Stayed from 00:48-01:45 (57 minutes)

On some nights I have left food out for the hedgehogs, this means that the hedgehogs spend longer in the garden and it is generally on these nights that the box gets used.

As yet there is no sign of the box being occupied during the day or as a nesting site. However it is a good sign that after only a few weeks the box has been found and is being used.

Another quite nice sequence from the week is one showing the teeth.

Obviously having a yawn after a nice sleep but the sharp teeth, both upper and lower, are quite distinct.

One of the questions it would be nice to answer is if it is the same hedgehog using the house or several different individuals. It is difficult to be sure, although I can definitely say that the one-eyed ‘pirate’ hedgehog has never been in the nest.

I took a few snapshots below of the hedgehog visitors on different nights. I’m afraid I can’t make out any distinguishing features.

I very much hope that the hedgehog using the box is the large female from last week. I think I saw the same female again this week. This time she approaches the male but there doesn’t seem to be any interaction.

As she walks away she seems to be pausing, hoping to attract some interest. Unfortunately she doesn’t manage to draw the male’s attention away from the jam sandwich! You can add your own punchline to that.

Sunday 07/06/20

Weather : Very warm and sunny for the first half of the week followed by a dramatic change to cooler weather with some heavy rain showers.

Notes : To try and entice the beech marten into the garden I left out a jam sandwich as food for a couple of nights. The hedgehogs absolutely loved this, although bread is not really their ideal diet, and it provoked a lot of interesting behaviour.

Firstly I can establish that there are at least three different hedgehogs visiting the garden. The first hedgehog to arrive for the sandwich was rather easy to distinguish as he has only one functioning eye.

It is a frequent visitor that we have been seeing since last year, the kids call this one the pirate hedgehog and in terms of identification it is nice and easy.

Next on the scene were another two hedgehogs, neither of which was one-eye, hence there are at least three individuals. And in the case of these two I managed to record a sequence showing courtship behaviour in a video spliced together from several clips over the same period. The male is trying to approach the rear of the larger female but he keeps getting pushed away. In this case the female can be identified by the huffing noise that she makes. As well as the size of the female it is worth noting that she is eating a lot more.

May and June is the time of the year when the hedgehogs will mate, apparently it is the period for the hedgehog rut. If the hedgehog gets pregnant the gestation period is around 4-6 weeks, therefore hoglets are typically born in July. The young Hedgehogs would then leave the nest after a further 4 weeks, say August.

Following the night of the hedgehog rut I then left a little food in the hedgehog house, to see if the female could be attracted in to check it out as a nice possible nesting sight!

Luckily a hedgehog was enticed to do exactly this. And then again the following night I had the visit captured below.

The hedgehog, and I hope that it is the female, definitely seems to be trying out the box for size. During this visit, which is the first real use of the box, the hedgehog stayed for around 30 minutes. The next staged will be to see if it will be used as a sleeping location during the day, but there seem to be encouraging signs that the box is starting to be used.

Sunday 31/05/20

Weather : Consistent warm sunny weather all week. Warmer than normal for the season and no rain.

Notes : I’ve had lots of Hedgehog visitors to the garden this week. Every night at least one hedgehog, although normally several, have been passing through.

I think passing through is the key phrase as although the hedgehogs do sometimes have a quick poke around the hedgehog house, it has not been used for sleeping during the day. I’ve tried to encourage them in by putting a little bit of food in the entrance to the box on a couple of nights. They have no trouble in finding this and it gets hoovered up straight away, but no staying over.

I did get one recording of two of the hedgehogs in the garden at the same time. It’s not very common for me to see two at the same time and it normally results in some sort of conflict, I think especially if it is two males. This time it seems to have passed off without incident.

Although I’ve been watching and recording the hedgehogs for a while I do find it very difficult to distinguish between them. Either to recognise the different individuals but also to tell the males and females apart.

The males have a penis on the underside of their body, kind of mid belly. This week one of the hedgehogs did oblige by having a good scratch just in front of the camera and in the picture below I have circled the penis.

So this one is definitely a male.

Sunday 24/05/20

Weather : Starting chilly but then developing to very warm weather. High temperatures for the time of year.

Notes : I installed the box on Saturday 16th May so this is its first full week in the garden. There are always lots of hedgehogs passing through the garden at night, sometimes also overstaying, so the ambition is to get one of these to start using the box on a regular basis.

To entice the hedgehogs in I placed a small amount of hedgehog biscuit food in the entrance chamber for the first couple of nights. This did the trick and straight away on most nights I saw a hedgehog come into the box. However they only seemed to poke their heads into the nesting chamber and didn’t show much interest in staying.

I’m sure that I have several different hedgehogs that use the garden, I would like to be able to separately identify them and also be sure of the sex. Hopefully as I gather more image evidence this will be possible.

I also saw a wood mouse make a visit to check out the new box. They are very active and seem to be building a nest in a nearby wall, perhaps they came into the box to look for some nesting materials.

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