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.
As I said in the last blog I’m now live streaming the several of the garden cameras. I have a feed for the daytime cameras and a feed for the nightime cameras.
For the next week at nights I will focus on the live stream of the Hedgehog feed station. So if you would like to see some real-time hedgehog action you can view them via the website link for the nightime camera on this page, or directly on the youtube stream here.
The hedgehogs tend to make their first visit to the feed station quite early in the evening, therefore to stand a good chance of seeing a visitor I would recommend watching between 8-9 in the evening, French time, 7-8 UK time.
Obviously no guarantees, but I think your chances are good.