At this time of year there will be lots of hungry hedgehogs trying to fatten up after their hibernation, so a plate of hedgehog food or meaty dog or cat food will be appreciated, plus a dish of water.
Although it is a little early for hoglets there may well be some courtship going on.
Hedgehogs prefer their own company as they are solitary animals. However in the breeding season the male will be on the look-out for lady friends. Most meetings, whatever the sexes involved, will start with a lot of huffing and puffing. Indeed this will often be the first time you will notice there are hedgehogs in your garden. If the hedgehogs are one of each sex then the male will start to circle the female. She will keep turning to face him but eventually the noise will stop and the female will lower her prickles so a careful mating can take place.
If the hedgehogs meeting are both males then the larger one may well butt the other one making it cry out in fear (a loud sort of scream). Sometimes the larger one will push the other over and roll it around (the smaller one having rolled into a ball when attacked).
The noise may not be the only sign of visiting hedgehogs. They also leave their calling cards. Hedgehog droppings can be as large as a lady’s little finger. It is often black in colour with some shiny bits due to the wing casings from any beetles they have eaten – these cannot be digested so come out the other end, giving the dropping its dark colour.
If you seem to have a regular visiting hedgehog at this time of year it may well be a female as the males are mainly nomadic looking for females. Whereas the females just want a small home patch that will support them and their expected litter.
If you are concerned about any hedgehog that you see contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful). Out of hours you will be directed to other numbers but whatever the time, with patience, you should be able to speak to a real person. For more information about hedgehogs and how to help them visit the BHPS web site at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk
If you find a sick, injured or orphaned hedgehog please bring the hedgehog to the surgery for treatment. For further help or advice you can contact the surgery on 02892667544