Hibernating hogs ‘is not an exact science’

Jam Jar Army
Jam Jar Army

There seems to be a great deal of confusion surrounding hedgehogs hibernating, which isn’t surprising as it isn’t an exact science.

Normally when the weather gets colder and their natural diet decreases, they would begin the hibernating process, but this year has proved something of an exception with the see-saw weather conditions.

We’ve been inundated with hogs this autumn, more so than usual, and this may be due to the fluctuating temperatures and possibly more babies born later in the year.

As a guide, if a hedgehog is seen out foraging during the hours of darkness and weighs 450g plus he/she will probably gain sufficient body fat to hibernate successfully, especially if they are being supported with food and water by us. A hedgehog out during daylight hours may need our help.

Recently, a young hedgehog weighing 300g was seen in the middle of a lawn in Alnwick, which concerned the person doing a spot of gardening while the weather was good.

They brought Sweetpea to us and she’ll now spend the winter here until spring arrives and they’re all ready to be released to provide the next generation of hedgehogs.

We had one phone call from someone in Newcastle who’d seen a hedgehog lying curled up on the lawn at night, but had left it there in case it was hibernating. A hedgehog won’t hibernate out in the open – it would be too vulnerable and would always have a winter nest (hibernaculum) in which to settle until spring. The fact this hedgehog didn’t move, even when left alone, and was still there in the morning was serious.

As soon as we received the phone call our immediate response was to ensure the hedgehog was safe and asked the people to place it in a box with something to snuggle into and then brought indoors.

One of our volunteers went immediately to collect the hog as he had just spent a very cold and frosty night out in the open with no protection and the situation was serious.

Miraculously, he’s doing well and we’re reasonably sure of a successful outcome, but they can and do die of hypothermia.

Contact 01665 570911 if you need help, although we can’t always take calls immediately.