Updated/Fact-Chacked on November 23, 2022 by John
Hedgehogs hibernate over winter, so you shouldn’t see any wandering around your garden during this time.
If you do see a hedgehog in your garden during the winter months, pop it into a box and take it to your local hedgehog rescue centre. They will overwinter the animal and release it again in spring.
Sometimes hedgehogs have a litter in September, which doesn’t give them time to get enough food for hibernation. They need to be over 600g to have enough fat to survive a winter.
Where do hedgehogs hibernate?
Hedgehogs love to hibernate in wild, overgrown areas with lots of thick brambles. If you have a sizeable garden, it’s a good idea to leave an area wild and overgrown for wildlife.
I’ve just added all my autumn leaves to my wild area to provide added insulation if a hedgehog chooses to hibernate in this spot.
Building a hedgehog home
If you have a smaller garden or don’t want to create a wild area, you can make a dedicated hedgehog home. In the video below, David Domoney creates a fantastic hedgehog box which can be easily replicated in your garden – it’s also a great project for children.
Signs of hibernation in hedgehogs
If you find a hedgehog curled up in a tight ball over the winter months, it is likely hibernating. If you look closely, you should see very shallow breathing.
You can also lightly touch the hedgehog’s spines, and they will shimmer as a reflex, similar to what cats do when you touch their fur. Don’t worry, the hedgehog is not dead, just hibernating until spring.
Caring for a Hedgehog yourself at home
If you find an underweight hedgehog during the winter months walking around your garden, the other option is to look after him yourself with an overwintering process. Children will love you for it (unless it dies).
Best Heating Sources To Keep your Hedgehog Warm
1. Regulating Room Temperature
Ideally, you can keep your hedgehog in a temperature-controlled room at around 21°–25° Celsius. You could also be mindful of drafts or places with no or poor insulation in your house
However, controlling the temperature of your entire home can quickly become costly if you live in a colder area. There are other, more economical ways to keep your hedgehog warm without breaking the bank.
2. Heating Pads
Heating pads are an inexpensive way to keep your hedgehog warm. However, they don’t heat the air around the cage and are best used alongside other options for additional heat.
One downside to using them is the overheating potential. To avoid this, ensure you get a pad with an auto shut-off feature.
3. Heating Lamps
Heating lamps are another economical option. They heat the air around the cage, not only the sleeping surface.
Remember that hedgehogs are sensitive to light, and using the lamp constantly may disrupt their sleep. To avoid this, you can purchase “night lights” that emit a minimal amount of light.
4. Ceramic Heat Emitters
These infrared emitters screw into a lamp like a light bulb without the inconvenience of the light. Some also come with an automatic shut-off to avoid overheating.
While their initial cost may be on the pricier side, they are reliable and inexpensive to operate once set up.
5. Space Heaters
Space heaters heat the entire room using heat coils and fans. Some also use oil, making them a great option for places with unreliable electricity.
However, they can cause a fire hazard and may not be as energy-efficient as other options.
What To Do During A Power Outage?
Power outages are not only inconvenient, but they can also be deadly for your pet hedgie. Therefore, you need a solid plan during a power outage.
Invest in a Generator
While generators may seem like an expensive solution, they can be a worthwhile investment for your entire home as well as the wellbeing of your hedgehog.
Hot Water Bottle
You can wrap a hot water bottle with a blanket and give it to your hedgehog. The water stays warm for a while and can be refilled easily.
If all else fails, never underestimate the power of your body heat to keep your pet warm. Just remember to place it in a warm blanket first.
While having a pet hedgehog can be very fulfilling, you also have a great responsibility as its owner to keep it warm, safe, and comfortable in its new home.
No matter what heating option you choose, they’ll likely be more than enough for your little pet. Just make sure to check all safety guidelines first!
Mary shares a passion for gardening with her husband John, though she is more focused on growing veg on their allotment at St. Margaret’s Allotments, Durham. Mary also works in the lawn care industry and manages the lawns for the Durham University campus.