When do Hedgehogs Hibernate – Hedgehogs are to be found in almost every part of Europe and Britain except in some areas of Scotland. The Erinaceus Europaeus is the scientific name for the British Hedgehog which belongs to the same family found in other parts of Europe known as Erinaceidae.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and this means that they have good hearing and an exceptional sense of smell. But usually have very poor eyesight. In case of fear or danger, a hedgehog will roll up to resemble a tight ball that is covered in spikes. Hedgehogs don’t run away when they sense danger and this is why they are always subject to risk on roads and near heavy machinery. Hedgehogs will live in a number of sites under woodland, farmland, in gardens and in hedgerows. They typically put on a lot of weight in autumn to prepare for the winter hibernation.
What is hibernation?
Hibernation occurs when the food becomes difficult to find usually when the temperature falls below 8C degrees. Hibernation means that the body temporarily shuts down, slowing down all the natural processes in order to reserve energy.
Males will usually start hibernation before females do. Hedgehogs will typically build hibernacula under a pile of leaves or under a shed. The heart beats drop from 90 to 20 bpm and their temperature drops from 35 to 10C. If you tickle their spines they will move a bit and this could be the only way to tell if they are still alive.
A sudden drop in temperature can also make the hedgehog go into hibernation mode. If you keep a hedgehog as a pet then you must have some way that will help you regulate the temperature. The room temperature must be kept at 73F and you can also use a heating pad on the sleeping area. The whole cage needs to be kept warm and this is Space or ceramic heat emitters are better at doing that but a thermostat should be used to avoid the room getting warm.
What should I do if my hedgehog run into hibernation?
You can have a light by your hedgehog’s cage because hedgehogs will need to get from 12 to 14 hours of light everyday and this is especially important in autumn months. Use hand warmers in case of an emergency, like a trip to the vet. But you must wrap them or cover them before using them against your hedgehog.
If your hedgehog attempts to hibernate:
You need to make sure that your hedgehog is warmed up gradually. You can put him under your clothing to let your body temperature warm it up or you can use a warmer or a heating pad set to low after covering it with a towel.
It is wrong to put your hedgehog in warm water. Because most hedgehogs don’t like water and this kind of warming might be too much for their bodies. If your hedgehog has tried to hibernate then proper attention should be paid to its cage to see if there is anything that needs to be changed. Hibernation attempts lower the effectiveness of the immune system and leave the hedgehog vulnerable to different diseases.
Hedgehogs don’t really sleep during hibernation but they lower their body temperatures to match their cold surroundings in order to save energy. This makes the body unable to perform the normal possible activities.
When do hedgehogs hibernate?
Between October and April, hedgehogs will probably move nests and some of them can be easily seen wondering around if the winter is not too cold in November and December.
During the months of hibernation, the hedgehog utilizes the fats stored in its body in order to fuel different body processes. Eating well during summer time is essential to fuel the body during hibernation when no food is consumed. Sometimes giving supplementary food is required.
When will my hedgehog wake up?
Hibernation will depend on a number of factors including weather. Most probably hedgehogs will wake up in March and will be seen more often in UK gardens. After the hibernation in over and in spring when the hedgehogs start to come out, they are usually one third lighter of their previous weight and are very thirsty.
Hedgehogs will wake up several times during hibernation but will not leave the nest or move unless it is too cold in order and only to seek a warmer one.
Where do hedgehogs live and hibernate?
They usually live in the outskirts of woodland and are often seen living in hedgerows. A well maintained hedgerow is a safe place for the hedgehog to live. Because it provides shelter and is full of insects to provide food. That’s why it is also a safe place for the hedgehog to hibernate.
A good hibernating nest will have a lot of characteristics that the hedgehog will pay attention to. It has to be sheltered and dry. It also has to be compact in order to help the hedgehog stay warm and to keep it safe from its natural predators.
The most popular places for choosing a hibernating nest are:
- Compost heaps.
- In roots of trees.
- Under sheds.
- Under hedges.
- Piles of wood.
- Old rabbit burrows.
Because we have a lot of bonfire parties like the Guy Fawkes Night that take place during the hedgehog’s hibernation season. Each bonfire should be closely examined before setting up the fire. For the same reason compost heaps should be checked well during the hibernation season. Because, there might be a hedgehog sleeping in there.
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Facts about hedgehog hibernate
Below are some facts about when do hedgehogs hibernate:
- There are a lot of animals that remain inactive during winter months because of the scarcity of food. The only animals that hibernate during the winter months are the bat, the dormouse and the hedgehog. Other animals like lizards and snakes become inactive but don’t really hibernate during winter.
- Hedgehogs hibernate because their most important source of food, insects, becomes scarce during the cold months of winter. This means that they will save their stored energy and will make their bodies stop many of the essential processes.
- The body goes through a lot of changes during hibernation. The heart beats drop and the body is unable to perform many of the vital processes. Hibernation will also lower the speed of metabolism. A hedgehog will breathe in and out every few minutes. The temperature of the body drops to a great extent and the fat stored in the body keeps the hedgehog alive.
- If the temperature drops dramatically below 1C, the hedgehog might suffer from frostbite which can be very dangerous and might even freeze to death. But usually before this happens, the body of the hedgehog will probably shiver and shake enough to wake it up which will push it to go and seek a warmer nest to continue its hibernation.
- If for any reason, the hedgehog was unable to put on enough weight and store fat before hibernation. It will not be able to survive through winter and it will probably die.
- The nest is usually 50 cm wide.
- It is usual that males and females share the same hibernating nest.
- If the winter is not that cold and insects are in abundance, hedgehogs will not hibernate.