is hedgehog month
How will I know if I'm looking at a hedgehog?
Hmm, tough one this, but if you're still a bit confused, the hedgehog
is Britain's only spiny mammal. The upper parts of the head and
body are covered in short, yellow-tipped spines - adults may have
up to 5000 of them. The rest of the body is covered with brown fur,
and the hedgehog has a short tail. Ah, sweet!
Hedgehogs are about 15-30cm long and weigh about 1.5-2 kg. That's
like a really prickly bag of sugar.
should I look for a hedgehog?
Hedgehogs like forests, hedgerows, scrub and cultivated land, and
they are commonly found in gardens. They are most active at night
after heavy rainfall.
do they like to eat?
eat slugs, snails, beetles and earthworms. They also sometimes feed
on eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds. If you want to feed
wild hedgehogs, try them on pet foods, baby foods, milk substitutes
and goats milk. You can use ordinary cow's milk if you dilute it
at least 50/50 with water - but only for wild hedgehogs with access
to other foods, not for captive ones.
What are their habits?
In summer, hedgehogs shelter during the day in temporary nests of
leaves, moss and grass.
Female hedgehogs have litters of 4-5 young, usually born between
April and September. Males do not assist in rearing them. Young
hedgehogs need to weigh at least 1lb, or they will not be fat enough
to last the winter.
By autumn, hedgehogs have dramatically put on weight in preparation
for their hibernation. Their hibernation nests are typically situated
under hedgerows. They hibernate until the following March or April,
during which time their body temperature and heart beat fall dramatically,
from 190 to about 20 beats per minute. Most hedgehog deaths occur
during this hibernation period.
Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, but their sense of smell and
hearing are very good, and they can swim and climb well. Their dense
covering of spines offers protection when the animal is disturbed,
rolling up in a tight ball covering the head and soft underside.
things you never knew about the humble hedgehog:
crisps are not flavoured with real hedgehog.
to popular belief, you should not feed hedgehogs milk. Vodka
is also not a good idea.
hedgehogs are good swimmers, they have not yet been accepted
in the Olympics. Very sad, that.
can roll up into a tight ball, but you must not try to use
them in a game of tennis. Or cricket.
Tiggywinkle is the most famous fictional hedgehog. That's
because there aren't any others.
can find out more about Britain's mammals at BBC
Wildfacts or BBC
Life of Mammals or The
The Mammal Society's Winter Monitoring Project is also looking
for volunteers. It wants to know more about the future of different
species. People who take part will be asked visit areas near to
their homes to monitor mammal activity and look for any signs of
mammals, like footprints or droppings. The Society - the only group
dedicated to the study and conservation of all British mammals -
says the initiative will help it learn more about different species
in the UK, and provide important information about the state of
the British countryside.
Get more information from The Mammal Society website or by ringing
020 7498 4358.