The Hedgehog Year by Jessica Redland
I’ve been thrilled by the positive response from readers to Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and delighted that readers are so excited that Samantha’s journey doesn’t end there. Book 2 – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – is out on 7th January 2021 and available for pre-order now. And I’m writing book 3 right now! It will be out in May next year.
I needed to do a lot of hedgehog-related research which is absolutely no hardship when they’re such adorable creatures. Around the publication of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow earlier this year, I was pleased to be able to share some hints and tips on how to look after hedgehogs along with some true/false hedgehog facts.
You probably know that hedgehogs go into hibernation around this time of year but do you know how long for or what happens to them for the rest of the year? I’ve therefore pulled together a year in the life of a hedgehog. Hope you enjoy it!
December – February
The weather is cold and their food supply is limited so, to conserve energy, they go into a state of suspended animation. Their heart rate slows, their body temperature plummets and they live off their internal fat stores.
When spring arrives and temperatures are consistently 10-12°C, hedgehogs awake from hibernation and they are super-hungry. Hardly surprising as they’ll have lost over a third of their body weight during hibernation. Their main objective this month will be to eat. Lots!
The objective for April is still about gaining weight and therefore building strength. Hedgehogs will travel substantial distances (0.5-1 miles a night) in search of food. This is when it’s really helpful to put food and water out in your yard/garden.
The male does a little dance – circling the female, snorting and grunting – and can often get into fights with other males to try to secure the female. Once the deed is done, they will go their separate ways as hedgehogs are solitary creatures.
Gestation is only 4-5 weeks. Mum-to-be will be busy building a nest for her hoglets and may be out during the day, grabbing what she needs e.g. moss, leaves, twigs. The nest needs to be quiet and hidden ready for her litter, usually 4-5 babies, but can be up to 10! Thankfully for Mum, they’re born spike-free!
The babies are growing and Mum will be out and about grabbing food then showing them how to forage for themselves as they won’t remain as a family unit for long and she needs to give them their education quickly
They may still be young but it’s time for the hoglets to make their own way in the world. They’re unlikely to reunite with their mum or their siblings. There are predators around – wild and domestic – and a hoglet is easy prey. It’s gardening season and pesticides, lawn mowers and strimmers are sadly as much of a risk to hogs as our roads.
The hoglets – on their own now – will be fattening up ready for their first hibernation. Mum, however, may have had a second litter of babies. Known as ‘autumn juveniles’, these may be born in late August/early September and these hoglets do not have time on their side to prepare for hibernating. They are extremely vulnerable
The weather is getting colder and food scarcer and the autumn juveniles are very much at risk now. They are likely to need help to gain enough weight to see them through hibernation. If you see one, seek guidance on keeping it warm and please get it to a rescue centre
Brr! Hedgehogs will be busy constructing their winter nest, known as a ‘hibernaculum’. They will use leaves, twigs, grass, straw and bracken and create their nest somewhere safe like under a hedge, raised shed, log pile or even a pile of rubbish. Time for sleep…
Jessica Redland’s latest release, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow is available in ebook, audiobook and paperback format on 7th January 2021. Pre-order your copy now by clicking on the cover below.