When will the hedgehogs come out of hibernation? This is like asking how long is a piece of string. When a hedgehog comes out of hibernation is not based just on the weather; other factors like the size of the hedgehog, whether it is its first hibernation, whether it is a male or female, can all have a bearing. Mild weather probably helps some of the smaller hedgehogs to survive the winter because there is a little more food around for them and they are kept going until the food is more abundant in the springtime. Severe weather sadly kills off the underweight hedgehogs that do not have a regular food supply.
So it is possible there will be hedgehogs around when you are reading this. If you see them around, or signs of them, do give them a dish of water – they will not have drunk for some months - and a dish of meat based dog or cat food. Try to be extra vigilant and ensure your pond has an escape ramp/scrambling net that these extra thirsty hedgehogs can use should they accidentally fall in. Keep that pond topped up too so they are less likely to topple in when drinking.
Some of the smaller or older hedgehogs will be very weak when they wake so if you see any wobbling or out in the day then they need to be rescued. Put any needing rescuing in a high-sided box. Cover a hot water bottle with a towel and place the hedgehog on this with the cloth you used to pick it up covering it. It can have some meat based dog or cat food and a dish of water. Don’t forget to keep changing the water in the bottle. If you don’t have a hot water bottle use a plastic milk carton or drinks bottle and wrap a towel around the hedgehog and bottle to keep them together.
To learn more about hedgehogs visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s web site at www.britishhedgehog.org.uk – you will find suggestions for feeding, feeding stations and much more. Do remember that hedgehogs are nocturnal and usually only come out in the day when they are in serious trouble. If you find a hedgehog needing help or if you need more advice call the BHPS on 01584 890 801.