Weather: Warm week, sunny with little rain. Spring!
Notes: At times it has felt like a long time, but this week it seems that hibernation is over and the Hedgehogs are back. And the first visitor seems to be quite a small one.
By it’s nature hibernation is a difficult period to record but this year I have made a particular effort and I do have some results to share.
As an exercise it rather tested my commitment to record keeping, for several months I’m mainly recording the absence of activity. However I missed only a couple of nights and the results of my semi scientific efforts are shown in the graph below.
The blue line in the graph shows the hedgehog activity in the garden, the number of visits recorded during each night. This gives the period of hibernation, shown with the big green line.
It shows that this year, for the hedgehogs visiting my garden, the hibernation started on 15th November and ended on 15th February, giving a rather pleasing duration of 3 months exactly. The period is largely driven by the weather so this rather precise timing must be a coincidence.
As discussed in one of the previous blogs hedgehogs are not completely dormant during hibernation, they remain occasionally active. In the graph there are a few blue peaks during the 3 months representing these short periods of activity. As one of the factors provoking this occasional activity is temperature I also recorded the lowest overnight temperature each night. This is the red line on the graph which is measured against the axes on the right-hand side.
6 nights of hedgehog activity where recorded during the hibernation period. On these nights the lowest nightime temperature was above 0oC, in fact no hedgehog activity was recorded when the temperature was below 0oC. My ground-breaking science seems to confirm that when it gets really cold, the hedgehogs, rather sensibly, don’t go out.
It is also worth remembering that it is only mid-February, we may still get more cold weather. If this is prolonged it may provoke the hedgehogs back into hibernation so I’ll keep taking the records for a little while yet.
However for the time being the hedgehogs are out and about and at this point they have 2 thoughts, food and mating. Mating I can’t help with but food I can cover and this week has seen the return of the hedgehog feed station to the garden. It is now camera equiped and the hedgehogs have been quick to find it.
I’m using special hedgehog food which is like dry biscuits or pellets. They’re very similar to dry cat food and apparently this works equally as well.
Weather: Very Cold all week. Snow on the ground and freezing temperatures at night.
Notes: No sightings this week which is not surprising given the weather conditions. Typical nightime temperatures were -5oC.
The weather is predicted to be warmer and wetter next week so it may be the moment for the hedgehogs to start coming out of hibernation. I plan to re-install the feed station next week so I’ll start to put food out as soon as they are active.
Weather: Very wet again this week lots of rain.
Notes: I’ve had a couple of Hedgehog sightings since the last log update. Firstly on 01st February and then again on the morning of the 6th, caught on camera below.
On both occasions there were only a couple of sightings, so still only a very low level of activity. The coming week is likely to be very cold, maybe with snow, so I think I will need to wait a bit longer yet for something more substantive.
Weather: Warmer but much wetter again this week. Lots of Rain.
Notes: Nothing. No signs of activity. I thought maybe the trail camera was not working so one night I left out some food which attracted some cats. It proved that the camera is working and that the hedgehogs are just sleeping.
Weather: Cold and week all week. A couple of snow flurries.
Notes: No activity and nothing to report this week. It is still cold and wet although temperatures are forecast to go up a little next week, if only temporarily. It will still be wet though.
Looking back at my notes from 2020 the first recorded hedgehog visit was mid February. Obviously it is all very weather dependent but I may have a few weeks to wait yet before the years activity starts.
Weather: Cold and Wet. We also had one day of snow. The snow was cleared by rain the following day.
Notes: No hedgehog activity in the garden this week. I did re-install the hedgehog box after giving it a reasonable stuffing of lime leaves.
Weather: Cold all week. Daytime temperatures between 1-4oC. A very little rain. No snow
Notes: I was ready to write ‘No activity this week’ but actually there were two Hedgehog sighting on the night of 5th-6th January.
That was it during a generally cold week which I imagine rathered favoured hibernation.
The other hedgehog news of the week was that I took the nest box in for a clean. I thought it was the moment to do it as it’s certainly not in use and I want it to be in good condition for the Spring. I hesitated about whether to put any nesting material into the box. Typically I have only put in a few leaves but I was considering really stuffing it with hay or straw. In the end I think I will put it back next week quite stuffed but with leaves. Actually I read that Lime tree leaves are favoured by hedgehogs for their nesting material and this is lucky as they are all over my garden. I bring them in from the trees that line our roads.
So to keep things natural I’ll provide a good stuffing of these in the box. I’ll re-install it next week a take a snap shot of the inside. It will be less ‘open’ than before but the stuffing will hopefully encourage it’s use. The other info I read is that Hedgehogs like a good distance between their food source and nest, therefore it is not a good idea to put any food in the nest box. I’ve actually done this from time to time, putting food in the entrance of the box, to draw the attention of the hedgehogs. I’ll avoid this in the future.
Weather: Weather: First cold snap of the year started from Friday. Temperatures regularly below 0oC at night. Plenty of rain.
Notes: Following it’s first outing last week there was a little more activity from the hedgehog. I recorded activity on the night of 27th-28th and then again on the 30-31st. I did leave out some food on night of 28th-29th but it was not taken. So clearly the hedgehog was not active on all nights.
The current cold snap really started from the 1st January so I imagine that the hedgehogs are now back hibernating and I don’t really expect to record any further sightings during this period.
It may be possible that during this cold snap that we get some snow on the ground something which is great for recording animal tracks. So if it does happen I’ll be keeping an eye on the ground around the typical areas of hedgehog activity.
Weather: Generally cold and wet with a short warm peak before Christmas. Arrival of Storm Bella on 27th with strong winds and heavy rain.
Notes: A first hedgehog sighting this week, the first since the 15th November. Caught for the sake of posterity on the video below.
The hedgehogs have been hibernating since Mid-November although they do break hibernation periodically during winter. This week, just before Christmas we had a little 2 day warm patch with nightime temperatures up to 12-13oC. I thought it may be a trigger but no hedgehog activity was recorded.
Then on the night of 26th-27th December we had the arrival of Storm Bella over Paris. It was not a very severe winter storm but it did bring very high winds and lots of rain with a nightime temperature around 3oC. It was actually on this night that the video was taken.
It may be a coincidence but it seems that it was the storm rather than the temperature which triggered the hedgehog activity. It will now be interesting to see for how long the hedgehog remains active. We are forecast a generally cold spell, potentially with some snow, so I imagine this would rather encourage the hedgehog quickly back into hibernation. I may leave out food on a couple of nights as this could provide a real boost to the hedgehog as it tries to maintain condition through winter.
Weather: Generally cold with a few more rain showers. Nightime temperatures between 2-5oC.
Notes: No sign of the hedgehogs. The last recording sighting was 17/11 so they are hibernating well. Over the last week or so the temperatures have come down and been quite low. Typical for the time of year and without any remarkable lows but generally cold. However towards the end of next week the temperatures are forecast to increase. It will be interesting to see if this will be enough for the hedgehogs to break from their hibernation and come out for food.
Other point to note is that I have now removed the feed station from the garden for the winter. It isn’t going to be in use during the winter so I’ll clean it up and re-install it for the spring.
Weather: Weather progressively colder during the week. Temperatures now in single figures. Some rain.
Notes: I think the hedgehogs are now hibernating as on several nights this week there was no activity. On one night this week I left out food in the feed station and it wasn’t taken. This is the first time that the food left out has not been eaten, a really sure sign that the hedgehogs are now hibernating.
I will keep recording the activity as they will emerge from time to time during the winter, I will try and track as and when this happens.
Weather: The first cold snap of the winter, clear & cold, was followed by a period of warmer temperatures. Little rain over the last 2 weeks
Notes : Hedgehogs are still active in the garden and taking food from the feeding station whenever it is left out.
We did have 3 or 4 days of cold weather during the first week of November and it was interesting that I had 3 nights with no recorded hedgehog visits. Admittedly I did not leave any food out during these nights but it may also be true that the cold weather provoked the hedgehog into it’s hibernation.
For hedgehogs hibernation doesn’t mean a permanent sleep from November to March, they’re not bears! For hedgehogs hibernation is a period of reduced activity, or no activity, when they slow down their heart rate and breathing. However during Winter they will come out of hibernation occasionally to feed and also if the weather is mild. So perhaps during this first cold snap the Hedgehog started it’s hibernation but then re-activated itself with the much milder weather.
I should say that the temperatures really were much milder and much above the seasonal norms.
As discussed previously no sign of the hedgehog house being used or even visited and I have not seen more than one hedgehog in the garden at the same time for many months.
What I did manage to get on camera was a hedgehog poo.
They are quite indiscriminate where they poo, in this case right next to the saucer which it had been eating from. Also they are not particularly territorial, so it is not marking this spot to lay some sort of claim. However finding hedgehog poo is a good way of confirming the presence of hedgehog and also, for the brave, of having a look at what they have been eating.
I feel a future Blog Post coming on.
Weather : Quite warm and wet this week. Temperatures slightly above the seasonal norm.
Notes : There continues to be plenty of hedgehog activity but the house has still 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 being 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 of 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 in September 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 would confirm that my hedgehog house has not been selected for use this year.
As hibernation is nearly upon us I should now start to see a reduction in hedgehog activity. I’m trying to keep a reasonable record of the night-time visits, although I’m reliant on the trail cameras which are not fool proof, however I should hopefully see this trend.
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 bit 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 would have been 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 I guess of interest to 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!
Weather : Drier this week although with some colder temperatures.
Notes : The hedgehog house has unfortunately again fallen out of use. The last time that a hedgehog stayed was the 5th October.
I was also a bit concerned about the food in the feed station. It was certainly getting eaten but the trail cameras where not picking up much hedgehog action. I had also found a lot of acorns in the station and I wasn’t sure that this was a regular food for the hedgehogs. Perhaps there was a chance that the hedgehog house food was being taken by mice or maybe other rodents.
Therefore I managed to set up a camera in the feed station, the quality is not great but the results of admittedly only one night were clear.
The food, certainly on this night, was taken 100% by hedgehogs and no other visitors were recorded. If this remains the case it would indicate that it is indeed the hedgehog eating acorns. Neither I nor my immediate neighbours have any oak trees so tracking down the source of the acorns would provide a bit more information on the hedgehog range.
It was also noticeable that the hedgehog was in the house eating as soon as it became dark, which is now around 19:30. I would say that this is quite typical behaviour at the moment, the hedgehog being present early in the evening. This would indicate that even if it is not using the hedgehog house it is staying close by during the day.
I was also lucky enough to get a very interesting view directly into the mouth of the hedgehog, who was obviously thinking about eating the camera.
I’ll make a little blog article on the hedgehog teeth as I have several good shots now.
Weather : Cold, wet and windy all week.
Notes : Another good solid autumnal week of cold wet weather. The hedgehog started to use the hedgehog house again starting from 27-09-20.
In total the hedgehog visited the house on:
Night of 27-09
Night of 28-09
Night of 30-09
Night of 02-10
Night of 03-10
It seems to come into the house and have a nap for around 30 minutes before heading off again. Sometimes there is only one stay and on other days several throughout the night.
I’m not very good at hedgehog identification but I believe that the hedgehog regularly using the house is a fairly small female.
I have spotted a different hedgehog, this time I would guess a male having a sniff, but then not going in to the house.
I don’t think that two different hedgehogs will share the same house so it looks like mine has been claimed by this small female, at least for now.
Famously hedgehogs are reputed to be great friends of the gardener, particularly as they eat slugs and snails of which I have no shortage, especially now that the rain has returned. In my garden I’m now finding lots of snail shells, including inside the feed station, which have been cracked upon and the snails eaten out.
This seems to confirm what I have read in that even when food is left out the hedgehogs will still take plenty of natural food. So don’t be discourage in leaving food out for the hedgehogs, I think it just encourages them to spend longer in the garden, time they use to the detriment of the snail population.
Weather : First week of Autumn. Much colder with several windy, rainy days.
Notes : Autumn has started very abruptly this week with a marked change in the weather. For hedgehogs this means preparation for the winter hibernation. They need to gain enough weight during the next weeks to survive and therefore this is a key time during which they should be very actively foraging for food. To help them along I will also be regularly putting food out, I made sure to stock up this weekend on the specialist hedgehog food.
The Hedgehogs have been active this week and every night I’m seeing more than one individual in the garden. I was also lucky enough to capture the video below again there were no obvious signs of conflict.
It seems that one of the hedgehogs has a clear pale patch on it’s right hand-side, which is a little odd. This is either a new hedgehog or the patch is new to one of the regular visitors. I have seen hedgehogs in the past with pale patches and it previously seemed to me that the markings would vary. Patches would move and then disappear. However I’m not sure if this is the case, do these patches vary on the same individual or are they permanent? If they don’t vary it means I’ve been seeing many different hedgehogs. I’ve tried to look up some info on the subject but it seems inconclusive, I need to keep watching and searching for some relevant material.
One thing I have read online is that sometimes hedgehog markings are not natural but are done by people using spray paints to ease recognition. This could explain why markings suddenly appear although I have a little difficulty to believe that my neighbours, certainly my immediate ones, would do any such thing. Perhaps this is just an Internet conspiracy theory!
There is not much interest being shown in the Hedgehog house. The only times it is being visited is if I place food in the entrance chamber. I do this from time to time, just so that they know the box is there.
I captured a very brief visit on the box camera this week.
Weather : Extremely warm and sunny week. Temperatures far exceeding the seasonal norm.
Notes : This week saw a couple of quick visits to the hedgehog house. I must admit I provoked this by placing a little food in the entrance, however at least they now know where it is.
I left out food in the feed station more or less every other night and it was always taken by the morning.
The highlight of the week was a short video showing two animals on camera. I was pretty sure that I had been seeing two different individuals in the garden most evenings but this was nice confirmation. There didn’t seem to be any agitation or signs of conflict which there often is when two get so close.
Weather : Warm and sunny all week. No rain.
Notes : The first full week of the Hedgehog feeding station and it has been a big success. Straight away on the first night the hedgehogs were using it.
The most important reason for installing the feeding station was to stop the cats getting to the hedgehog food. This was also tested during the first week.
Firstly the cat watched the hedgehog leaving the station.
Before having a go at getting in itself.
I’m satisfied that the feeding station is cat proof. It is really not possible for the cat to get far enough it to get to the food.
What I have noticed is that on nights when there is food available hedgehogs are much more active and spend much longer in the garden. To try and put some proof to this and also to be a little more systematic in recording the hedgehog activity I have started making a daily record. I will keep it updated on the website and it can be found at the following link.
No sign of any activity in the house during the week. Next week I will try and introduce a little food into the entrance area to see if they can be enticed back in.
Weather : Generally warm and sunny. Only a very little rain.
Notes : Still a reduced amount of hedgehog activity and at least a couple of nights without any visits. So this week a made a come of changes to hopefully try and increase the interest for the hedgehogs.
Firstly I cleaned out the Hedgehog house and moved it back into the corner of the garden which I think is a better spot and is where we have had hedgehogs hibernating before. Opening the box back up was interesting, I found some hedgehog poo actually inside the box which I was surprised about and I’m not sure if perhaps it would discourage use of the box. So I cleaned it out using a light disinfectant.
I also added a few air-holes to the base and a tube on the back face to allow more air to circulate. I think I should have done this originally as it will prevent dampness, especially in the winter.
Second change is that I made and installed a hedgehog feeding station. It was becoming impossible to leave out any food without it being taken by the cats so hopefully the feeding station will prevent this and bring the hedgehogs back.
For those interested, I’ll add the plans of the feed station construction onto the website, soon.
Weather : Sunny with occasional rain showers. Not particularly warm.
Notes : First log update for a while due to the holidays. I did try to keep recording the activity throughout the period. However the trend of declining hedgehog activity in the garden seems to be confirmed. On several nights there have been no recorded visits and this hasn’t happened for many months.
I’m not sure if it’s a seasonal variation or if there is some other causes. We have had some rain during August, my grass is turning green again, so there are plenty of slugs and snails in the garden, lots of potential food.
What I have noticed is an increased presence in the garden from the neighbourhood cats. Also now each time I place a tray of hedgehog food out it is being taken by the cats without the hedgehogs getting a look in. I have even seen a cat poke it’s head into the entrance of the hedgehog box to look for food.
Therefore I think I will now install a proper feeding station. In this way I can be sure that any food I put out is protected from the cats and is actually getting to the hedgehogs.
The most notable recorded behaviour during the period is that shown in the video below, taken on the 17th August. It’s a little jumpy as there are three segments spliced together.
It seems to be a much larger male approaching a small female. The female is making the huffing noises. I believe hedgehogs may still mate and even have litters this late in the year although the chances of survival for any young are much less as they do not have enough time to build up the necessary resources before the winter.
Weather : Very warm this week, temperatures up to 40oC.
Notes : Quiet week for hedgehog activity and still no further use of the hedgehog house.
The weather is now very hot, we are into the weeks where we will see typical daytime temperatures in the 30’s and maybe up to 40 degrees. One consequence of this is that the grass has now completely gone from the lawn as I took the decision not to do any watering this year.
The lawn is a good foraging ground for worms, slugs and snails which are much less numerous and easy to find during the hot weather. I’m sure all will be back when the weather turns in the autumn, lawn and snails, but this lack of habitat and food may be one of the reasons of the relative lack of hedgehog activity at this time.
One highlight is that I do keep seeing the very small individual that I assume is a young juvenile.
I have still not seen this hedgehog in the company of any others, so it seems that even though very small it is already independent.
Weather : Warm sunny weather all week, rain overnight during 1 night.
Notes : I did a bit of citizen science this week to help collect some data for a French project ‘Mission Herisson’. Asking people across France to gather data on the hedgehog activity in their gardens and to contribute it to a website they had set up. Right up my street.
To participate you needed to set-up a hedgehog tunnel and record the activity on 5 consecutive nights, I did this from 21/07-25/07.
The hedgehog tunnel is a nice idea and the best way for anybody to establish if there is an active hedgehog in the garden without the need of trail cameras. It’s the Old school method.
For those not in the know the tunnel is made out of cardboard and is placed outside overnight. I think the standard design is triangular so that on the base you can insert another piece of cardboard which can be easily extracted. The aim is to lure the hedgehogs into the tunnel, by placing some food in the middle and by recording the footprints on pieces of blank A4 paper positioned at either end.
The pictures below show the basic concept.
The key question is what to use as the ‘ink’ which the hedgehogs step on so that the footprints are recorded. Obviously real ink or paint is a no-no. I used a solution of ash, from the BBQ, mixed with cooking oil until it achieves a paint like consistency. This is then applied onto the 2 strips on either side of the food container positioned in the middle of the tunnel.
It is all very homemade and quite simple and I would advise anybody to give it a go as a bit of an experiment. I set-up my trail cameras to record the activity and I’ve included below a video from the week.
On each of the 5 nights I recorded hedgehog footprints in the tunnel and I’ve shown all of the results below. I’m not an expert tracker but I’m fairly sure that I only recorded hedgehog prints, no other rodents and no sign of the marten. Apparently hedgehogs have 4 toes on the front foot and 5 toes on the back foot so it is possible to distinguish front from back.
All of the tracks from the 5 nights are shown below.
Apart from this experiment little to note from the week. Obviously hedgehogs continue to visit and I have also seen the young juvenile hedgehog. However there has been no further use of the hedgehog house since the 7th July.
Weather : Warm sunny weather, no rain.
Notes : Absolutely no activity in the hedgehog house since the last visit on 7th July. I admit I have not been putting out as much food and nothing inside the house, and activity seems to have dropped away.
I have still been getting hedgehogs in the garden and I have seen a couple of visit from a very small one which I assume is a juvenile.
It’s obviously much smaller and I took a still image to compare it with a typical adult below.
I have only seen the small one on it’s own, never with any siblings or an adult, but it would be an indication of nearby breeding. Assuming that it must be at least 1 month since the birth and maybe a little more, it would indicate a birth time of early June, with conception early May.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.