Hedgehog hibernation is not always continuous and there is plenty you can do to help our wild hedgehogs over Winter in your wildlife garden.
Hedgehogs don’t always hibernate, especially if it is mild. They will also wake up during milder spells to have a bite to eat or even to move nest. Leave out food and water for as long as hedgehogs are visiting. I leave out dried food in a feeding station and change it when it starts to get a little soggy. I leave out water all year round in frost-proof dishes.
Check hedgehog holes
Winter is also a great time to check that all your hedgehog holes are still in place and to create any new ones whilst the foliage has died back. They need to be a minimum of 5 inches square.
Build a hibernation box
If you have more spare time over the darker months, it’s also a great time to build your own hedgehog hibernation box or feeding station ready for the Spring. You could even start doing some garden planning thinking about all the insect and wildlife friendly plants to grow from Spring.
Hedging for hedgehogs
Late Winter is also a great time to plant new hedging and pop in a new garden tree or two. Pick one with medium sized leaves for hedgehogs to use for their nests and with plenty of flowers in Spring and berries in Autumn. Oak and beech are fabulous.
Most hedgehogs will be hibernating by Christmas if it is cold so please take care not to disturb them if you are doing any gardening over Winter. Favoured spots are in piles of leaves, under large plants, in compost heaps and under sheds and decking. If you do accidentally disturb a sleeping hedgehog, here is what to do.
Nesting materials for hedgehogs
I leave out piles of dry hay around the garden under something to keep it dry and hedgehogs can come and take some if they decide to move nests over Winter. Other than that, I don’t disturb them until they wake in Spring.
Cleaning hedgehog boxes
Once I know they have emerged, mid April is a great time to check and clean out all your hedgehog boxes. Give them a good hot wash out and replace with dry hay inside. It is the only time of year I would recommend doing this unless you are absolutely sure there is not a hedgehog inside.
Thank you again for everything you do to help our hedgehogs.
Emma and the rescue hedgehogs x
I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. I am also a passionate wildlife gardener. You can read more about me and my work here. I also make handmade silver nature jewellery to raise funds to support my work. Visit my online jewellery shop at www.littlesilverhedgehog.etsy.com