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Hedgehogs and hibernation

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Hedgehog on towel. © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary

Hibernation is a response to a shortage of food in winter. Hedgehogs usually hibernate between November and mid to late March. But if the weather is mild and food available then hedgehogs may remain active into November or December.

Try to set aside a hedgehog-friendly area of garden where you can leave welcome heaps of leaves and brushwood. If you have to light a bonfire using one of these heaps, always check to make sure there are no animals sheltering in the middle of it. Food and fresh water (not milk as it can cause severe diarrhoea when drunk by young hedgehogs) at any time of the year will encourage visiting hedgehogs to return regularly.

You could try leaving out food such as minced meat, fresh liver, tinned dog food (not fish-based), or even chopped boiled eggs. Small quantities of bran or crushed dog biscuits can also be used to provide bulk.

Animals must have enough fat reserves to survive hibernation. Young hedgehogs born late in the season will have insufficient fat reserves to survive hibernation. So any orphans found weighing less than 500g at the end of the autumn will need help in putting on weight to get them through the winter.   If you think this might be the case with the ‘hog in your garden, contact us and we’ll advise you what to do.

If the hedgehog is sick or injured then contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty and advice line 0300 1234 999.

Read more about caring for hedgehogs in your garden or to order a copy of our Hedgehogs and you leaflet, visit our leaflets and posters page.
 

 
 
 

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