7, When Are Hedgehogs Usually Out And About?
Hedgehogs are usually active from March through to November when they should be thinking about hibernating. Much depends on the weather, they may be about earlier in the year if the weather is warm and this can often catch them out if it suddenly gets cold again.
A late litter may mean a mother hedgehog is around long after November and both her and her hoglets will have little chance of surviving a cold winter as they won't have time to build up enough body fat to take them through the normal period of hibernation. Their best chance of survival is for someone to take them in and care for them until the warm weather returns.
From April onwards put out shallow dishes of food in the same place every night. Preferably where you have seen the hedgehog, this is usually near walls, fences, in flower borders and on patios. Hedgehogs are often seen under and around bird tables, so if you have one of these, put your dish of food there.
8, What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
In the wild, one of their favourite foods is the moth larvae, commonly known as the cut-worm, a pest that damages young plants and vegetables at ground level. The larvae of these moths i.e. the turnip moth and its relatives, form nearly a quarter of the hedgehogs diet especially in April when these pests are most active on the newly forming plants. One hedgehog can dispose of thirty or more of these pests every night! Along with any caterpillars that come into reach. Beetles are another of its favourites, in particular the vegetarian beetles such as the strawberry seed beetle, seventy five were found to have been eaten by one hedgehog at a single sitting.
These insects make up the majority of a hedgehogs diet as they are high in nutrition. Later in the year they will start eating more slugs, snails and other slower moving prey because these are high in fat content, which the hedgehog will need to last them through their winter hibernation.
If they come across any dead carcass, such as a mouse, rat or bird they will dispose of that as well.
In captivity, tined cat food seems to suit them best (not the fish varieties) along with plenty of clean water, however if you can find a few slugs for them they will always be welcomed. Check that the slugs are healthy and not beginning to dissolve, an early sign of slug pellets doing their work. You will kill the hedgehog if you feed them slugs that have been affected by slug pellets.
Never feed them bread and milk, many people seem to think this is the best food for them but it is an old wives tale. Cows milk cannot be digested by a hedgehog and it will result in dehydration and eventually death.
Baby hedgehogs, hoglets, need a special formula based on goats milk. Please contact me direct for further instruction on looking after hoglets.
9, DO HEDGEHOGS HAVE GOOD EYESIGHT?
Not really, they can see things very close but probably not in great detail. A hedgehog normally relies on it's nose to find food. If you are lucky enough to see one searching for food, it will have its nose in the air or on the ground, sniffing everywhere it goes. Food can be detected even under an inch of soil and a human can be smelt many yards away. Ears are another matter, although small, they are very sensitive and play and important role in helping to detect their lunch. They can easily hear a beetle scurrying by or a bug rustling about underground.
10, HOW LONG DO HEDGEHOGS LIVE?
With our help they can live as long as ten years in the wild. However, without help they usually only survive for two or three years.
The first few weeks of life are likely to be its last! About 20% of hoglets die before leaving the nest. The next big hurdle is their first winter, around three quarters of hedgehogs never see their first birthday! The majority die during their first hibernation, a very dangerous time for them. The few that survive will see their chances of surviving a second and third winter greatly increased but with all the added hazards a hedgehog has to face from cars, falling into deep ponds, pesticides etc. its future is not too good. Probably, about four hedgehogs in a thousand might reach the age of ten but it will be very rare indeed for any hedgehog to live longer than that.