Hotchi-witchi

08 November 2018

Last month I came across an interesting article about Hedgehog survival, so wanted to chat about them for my November blog!

Unfortunately, there will have been several hedgehogs lost with it having just been Guy Fawkes night as many bonfires would have been lit and as we all know this is where many hedgehogs choose to reside and not everyone remembers to check the bonfire before lighting it.

Sightings of hedgehogs on Balcaskie are rare but they are definitely present.

The hedgehog (Erinaceus Europaeus) habitat is mainly hedgerows, woodlands and meadows but they are also commonly found in suburban gardens. Within their habitat they normally have a few sleeping nests. As they are nocturnal creatures it is not until dark that they leave their nests to forage for food. Hedgehogs rustle through the leaf litter looking for insects such as beetles and caterpillars, as well as earthworms and slugs. As a natural pest controller, the hedgehogs can be allied as ‘Organic Gardeners.’
A hedgehog will normally weigh between 600-900 grams, with a maximum length of 25cm. They breed from March to October with a gestation period of 32 days. Each hedgehog will typically have between 3 and 5 hoglets a year who will become independent at 6 weeks old.
As winter approaches the hedgehogs will start to look for places to hibernate usually under leaf and log piles. It is very important that gardeners check their leaf piles before lighting them.

If hedgehogs are present in your garden you can help them by not disturbing their nests and also by providing supplementary food sources during the hard winter months. Supplementary food sources consist of dry cat biscuits, meal-worms or fruit. Always make sure that the food remains fresh and under cover. Milk should not be given as it can upset the hedgehog’s stomachs and it can quickly go off. Hedgehogs like water, so this can be given alongside any food sources.

Building a nest for the hedgehogs for over the winter can be a very fun activity to do on a glorious autumn day with all the fallen leaves around. Many examples are available from The Wildlife Trust www.wildlifetrusts.org or from Wildlife Watch www.wildlifewatch.org.uk

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