Saturday, 25 July 2015

Hedgehogs in August - by BHPS

Those hoglets born at the start of the hedgehog season will already be independent. Some of you may have had the unforgettable experience of seeing a mother hedgehog trundle across the lawn followed by 3 or 4 miniature replicas.

Once they are 8 weeks old they will tend to disperse and mum may even try for another litter. Although these juveniles have had some experience of foraging, if the weather is very dry, they will struggle to find food. Putting out a dish of hedgehog food or meaty cat or dog food and a shallow bowl of water at this time of year is a good way to encourage one of this year’s juvenile to settle in your garden. 

If you have an uninhabited hedgehog box, now is a good time to clear out any old bedding and replace it with new. To check the box is empty place a small piece of screwed up paper in the entrance late one afternoon. If a hedgehog is sleeping there it will push the paper aside as it leaves the nest. Repeat for a few days to be absolutely sure nothing is using the box before opening it up. If there is a resident, do not open the box or attempt to clean it. To attract hedgehogs to a vacant nest box initially you could leave a trail of biscuits in and around the box. Once it is inhabited leave the food further away as they may encourage other visitors into the box and your original visitor may be displaced. Using dry hedgehog or cat biscuits means there will be no smell from decaying food and they can be left out for some time before they become inedible. Slugs may also be less likely to be attracted to them. This cuts down on waste and cost. Do remember to supply extra water as dry food will make them thirsty.

The numbers of some parasitic worms can increase at this time of year and some of the smaller hedgehogs may end up with very heavy worm burdens. Do keep an eye open for any hedgehogs about in the day that seem to be in trouble. Back in June and July quite a few hedgehogs may have been seen around at dawn and dusk because there are less daylight hours for them to forage in. Those hedgehogs will have been moving about with a purpose i.e. searching for food. Ones that are poorly will be listless (or even static), wobbly or both. Hedgehogs that appear to be asleep in the open are in trouble and need your help immediately.

If you find an abandoned hoglet or a sick or injured hedgehog either contact us (if you live in the area we cover) or contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact. Contact them on 01584 890801 or follow the link above. For more general information about hedgehogs and how to help them visit the BHPS website

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Hedgehogs in July

Feeding station, but they don't have to be this 'posh' 

This time of year can sometimes be very difficult for the hedgehogs especially if it is a hot month. 

The females that already have a family will have a cosy nest, but in hot weather and with 4-5 wriggling hoglets the nest can get very hot for her.  Sometimes she may even use another nest in the day and sleep apart from her growing family. 

In the hot weather the ground becomes harder and the moisture loving worms and other natural food will become more difficult to find.  Added to this her growing family will start to come out with her when she is foraging, so there are even more mouths to feed. 

Providing a dish of water and making a feeding station that cats cannot get into can be a great help for mothers and their growing family.  There are suggestions for feeding stations on the BHPS’s website but using a paving slab resting on some bricks (place the bricks on their sides) will protect the food from the weather, cats and even larger stronger visitors.  Leave a small gap (5” or 13cm square) between 2 of the bricks, so the hedgehogs can come and go, and place the food well back from that gap, so sneaky cats’ paws cannot reach in.  In really hot weather the food can go off and flies can be attracted to it so perhaps use some hedgehog biscuits or dried mealworms rather than tinned food.  However dry food will make them thirsty so an extra dish of water is essential. 

Also make sure your ponds are topped up so any animal that comes to drink from it can easily reach the water and will not topple in.  Hedgehogs are good swimmers but if the level of the water is low it may not be able to get out.  This also applies to ponds with overhangs and slippery sides.  A small section of plastic coated wire netting just going down the side of the pond can act as a scrambling net so the hedgehogs can climb out. 

If you find an abandoned hoglet or a sick or injured hedgehog contact us (details on our website) or the BritishHedgehog Preservation Society they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact (their telephone number is 01584 890801).