The truth about hedgehog hibernation

30, November, 2020

Here at Spike’s, we love learning more about hedgehogs and what they get up to. When it comes to hedgehog hibernation, there are a few things you might not know. Read on for the truth about hedgehog hibernation, so you know what to expect from the cute neighbourhood critters this winter.

Why do hedgehogs hibernate?

During spring and summer, hedgehogs survive on a diet of a range of insects, which are usually abundant when the weather is warm. When the colder months come around, it becomes harder and harder for hedgehogs to find food, so many of them hibernate to preserve energy until sustenance is more readily available. They can sleep for months at a time, as long as they have sufficient fat stores.

What happens when a hedgehog hibernates?

You might think the hoggies are just having a nice sleep, but internally, there is a lot more going on. When a hedgehog hibernates, they enter a state or dormancy or torpor and their body temperature drops to match their surroundings. This slows their bodily functions down whilst preserving energy.

When do hedgehogs hibernate?

Hibernation season is typically regarded to be the period of time between November and March. However, this is highly dependent on weather conditions and the individual hedgehog, so it’s important not to assume that all hedgehogs are fast asleep by November. If the weather is mild, hedgehogs tend to stay awake for longer so it’s still worth leaving out food and water for them.

Do all hedgehogs hibernate?

Simply, no. Not all hedgehogs hibernate. If a hedgehog is particularly well fed, it doesn’t need to preserve energy to survive the winter. Obviously, hedgehogs are wild animals and each individual hedgehog has a different set of circumstances; some don’t hibernate at all, some sleep for a couple of weeks and some sleep for months. This is also dependent on the weather as sudden drops or increases in temperature may rouse a hibernating hedgehog.

Should I still leave food out for hedgehogs during hibernation season?

As we’ve already discovered, not all hedgehogs hibernate and those that don’t may have become accustomed to tasty Spike’s hedgehog food! Even the ones that do hibernate may wake up from time to time so it’s crucial that they have readily available food on hand.

What should I do if a hedgehog is sleeping in an inconvenient place?

You shouldn’t ever try to move or rouse a sleeping hedgehog, even if the place they’ve built their nest in is inconvenient for you. If the hedgehog has built their nest in an unsafe place then call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and they will give you guidance on what to do next.

What should I do if I wake a sleeping hedgehog?

If you happen to stumble upon a hibernating hedgehog this winter and accidentally rouse them from their slumber, it’s important to cover them back up with dry leaves and leave some food and water for them. Hedgehogs depend on fat stores to survive the winter so if they wake up, it’s important to have easily available nourishment to fuel them in case they decide to find another place to hibernate. Building a nest is hard work after all!

How do I encourage hedgehogs to hibernate in my garden?

Hedgehogs like to hibernate snuggled up under log piles or under piles of dry leaves. You can make your garden more hibernation friendly by letting things get a tad on the messy side. Letting your garden get a bit wild will help make conditions ideal for all different kinds of wildlife, not just hedgehogs. Remember though, if you’re trying to encourage more hedgehog visitors, always be careful if you do decide to do a bit of gardening. You never know who might be tucked up in the greenery!


I'm awake after my long hibernation and feeling very hungry!

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