Hedgehogs in February by Kay Bullen
Well it has been a wet and warm winter and this can both help and hinder hedgehogs. The wet weather can make it difficult for them to build a well-insulated nest and if they are hibernating, warmer temperatures means their metabolism runs faster in hibernation burning more precious fat reserves. That said the mild weather can mean that there is more natural food around so the smaller hedgehogs are more likely to be able to put on any extra weight and if the weather does become colder they may be up to a suitable weight to hibernate.
For the smaller hedgehogs the longer the mild spell the shorter their eventual hibernation may be. Keep an eye on any smaller hedgehogs that visit your garden and do keep putting out food for them. As I mentioned there will be more natural food around than usual but when it does get colder they will know where there is a regular supply of food and this will be a life saver if any are still a little underweight. However if they start to come out in the day or look poorly in any way, they do need to be rescued. Keeping a watch on their weights will also show whether they are fattening up. If they are not getting heavier then there may be another underlying problem that needs attention. If in doubt call BHPS for individual advice on 01584 890 801.
It is not unheard of for some of the adult hedgehogs to come out of hibernation in February, the males tend to wake before the females. So you could start putting out some dry food and water (protect it from the cats) just in case you get a hungry visitor. They will be particularly thirsty, having not had a drink for some months, so do make sure they can find water and also check your ponds are safe, should a dopey hedgehog fall in. They are good swimmers but will drown if they cannot get out of the water.
If you have any nest boxes in the garden you could place a smaller piece of screwed up paper in the entrance. This will be pushed aside as the hedgehog emerges so you will know it is awake.
If you need advice or find a sick or injured hedgehog contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society they can give general advice or contact us at Advance Veterinary Care as we are local hedgehog rehabilitator. Contact them on 01584 890801 or for general visit their web site www.britishhedgehogs .org.uk.