Time is getting on and just as we might prepare early for Christmas so the hedgehogs must prepare to hibernation. When birds are flying to warmer climates, squirrels and Jays are building up food stores, hedgehogs are also building up their food stores; but theirs will be internal fat. One type of fat to live off and another one to kick start their waking processes.
This extra fat must be sufficient to see them through the whole of the winter. If they do not have enough fat stored they will not be able to survive the winter and may have to delay going into hibernation. However, as the weather gets colder so their natural food will disappear, this produces a vicious circle, they are searching for more food and that food is less abundant.
This is why extra food can be a life saver. A dry nest box in which to make their hibernation nest would be a bonus. Provided they have plenty of food and a dry place to sleep in, they can hibernate later or may even survive the winter without hibernating. It is not the cold weather that kills them rather the lack of food it brings. Having said that if their nest is in a cold damp environment and their bedding is damp then they will struggle against hypothermia. The young, weak, sick and elderly hedgehogs will be the most vulnerable.
A dish of water should also be provided especially if you are feeding them dry foods. If the food and water can be place inside a feeding station this would give them a certain protection from the frosts and would also keep the hedgehog dry when it is feeding in the rain or snow.
For more information about Autumn Juveniles visit the BHPS website and view the leaflet section for the “Autumn Juvenile” leaflet. If you need advice about a particular hedgehog it would be helpful if you could weigh it before calling, as this helps us to give the most appropriate advice.
If you are concerned about your local visiting hedgehog contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact. Contact them on 01584 890801 or for general advice visit their web site www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.