May 2012 newsletter


kindly written for Brackley HogWatch by Kay Bullen VN
(Hedgehog Author, BHPS trustee and founder of a hedgehog rescue centre in Cardiff)

 Most hedgehogs will be awake by now and the females will be thinking about having a family.  Some will already be pregnant, whilst others still have the courtship ritual to go through.  Hedgehog courtship is a very noisy affair.  They are normally solitary animals and the females take a lot of encouragement to co-operate.  On meeting with any hedgehog they will often huff and hiss, they may sound like they have a very bad cold.  The male will then try to get behind the female.  Initially she will have none of this and will turn so she keeps facing the male and he will continue to circle her.  Once she is ready she will be more passive and mating takes place – very carefully of course.  Then they go their own ways – the male does not stay to help to rear the family.

After around 32 days the female will give birth to a litter of around 4-5 hoglets.  When they are about 4 weeks old they will come out of the nest with her and when they are 8 weeks old they tend to leave home – each going their separate ways leaving Mum behind to perhaps start another family – but that is another story.

If May is a hot dry month, as it has been in recent years, then hedgehogs would appreciate extra food and a dish of fresh water.  Don’t forget to top up your ponds so they don’t topple in trying to reach the lowered water level.  When it is hot and the ground is hard some of the hedgehog’s natural food is more difficult to find.  A dish of meat based, dog or cat food or even some special hedgehog food will go down very well.  The problem with putting out food for the hedgehogs is that the cats may steal it.  If the food is placed under something low eg a shed raised off the ground, a paving slab resting on some bricks or even an upturned dog basket this will stop most cats gaining access to the food.  Cats are often inquisitive about hedgehogs but usually have more sense than to tackle an adult – especially after the first tentative touch results in a prickled paw.

If you find a hedgehog in trouble call Brackley HogWatch any time day or night on 07528 119 416