Sunday, 27 November 2016

HEDGEHOGS



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The common hedgehog, Erinaceus Europaeus, is familiar across Britain and Ireland.  These nocturnal animals are the largest of our insectivores and can often be seen at dusk in woods, hedgerows and gardens.

Hedgehogs are stout animals that are about 25 cm long and covered with distinctive dense, stiff spikes over their back, sides and top of the head. These spines are 20 mm long and pale brown with a dark band below the tip, giving a flecked effect.  They have a hairy face, rather than spiny, and a long pointed muzzle with a shiny black nose. Ears are visible in front of the spines, the legs appear short and the tail is hidden.

They feed on slugs, earthworms, caterpillars, beetles and other small invertebrates, along with small frogs, slow worms, mice and eggs.  They breed may till October, producing an average of five young, which are born small and helpless. After six weeks they are weaned and ready to face the world.

Hedgehogs hibernate during the winter usually from October till April depending on temperature, wrapping themselves in leaves, under dense bushes or in piles of cut brushwood. They can become very fat prior to hibernation, gaining a body weight of around 400 g or more in order to survive the winter.

You can encourage nest building by leaving patches of dense bramble, piles of shrub trimmings or a purpose built hibernation box.  Also check bonfires prior to lighting as hedgehogs will often nest here.  If you see a hedgehog out during the day its is a sign that something is wrong.  Relocate to a nice quiet area in a safe location and allow to rest. Emergency food can be provided in the form of tinned cat food, never milk.

Bat boxes
British Bats: Common Pipistrelle
Hedgehogs
How to make an insect house
Hummingbird hawk moth