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Beginning of the Hedgehog Season
Hedgehogs usually hibernate from October/November through to March/April. Research has shown that each individual is likely to move nesting sites at least once during this period and so can sometimes be seen out and about. During mild winters hedgehogs can remain active well into November and December.
Whilst in hibernation the hedgehog’s fuel supply comes from the fat stores it has built up over the summer. Eating enough before hibernation is vital and this is when supplementary feeding can prove important to hedgehogs.
In March hedgehogs now start to emerge from hibernation, they have potentially lost 1/3 of their body weight over the winter months during hibernation. They now need food and water in the evening to help them prepare for the breeding season.
Most baby hedgehogs are born in June and July, with an average litter size of four or five young, of which two or three are usually weaned successfully. The mother is liable to desert or even eat the young if she is disturbed. Young hedgehogs will leave the nest when they are around three to four weeks old to go on foraging trips with their mother. After around ten days of foraging with their mother the young will wander off on their own.
Females are capable of having a second litter in late September or October but these young are unlikely to survive the winter. In Britain it is thought unlikely that female hedgehogs ever manage to successfully rear two litters in a season as the young from the second litter are unable to put on enough weight to survive hibernation. These late litters can lead to ‘autumn orphans’ still foraging around well into winter sometimes in the day time and often looking underweight.
For more information about the hedgehog breeding season click here.