|As it gets colder, around October-time, the
hedgehog will make itself a cosy nest and hibernate. It will sleep through the
bad weather and wake up sometime around March or April, as it gets warmer and
there is more food about.
|If you accidentally unearth a hibernating
hedgehog, simply cover it back up and leave it there.
|Although it is convenient to speak of hedgehogs
'sleeping' during hibernation, this is not exactly true. Hibernation is more
about conserving energy than sleeping. During hibernation, the hedgehog's body
temperature will drop dramatically, and this economical use of energy allows it
to survive throughout the colder months.
|Whilst it is hibernating, the hedgehog survives
on reserves of body fat built up during the year. It follows that it must be a
good weight, in order to be able to survive hibernation. A hedgehog ought to
weigh at least 600 grams before it goes into hibernation.
|If a hedgehog has not reached a
good weight by the time temperatures have dropped enough for it to hibernate,
this will not prevent it from hibernating. It will go into hibernation but -
not having the required reserves - will die as it sleeps.
|It is the temperature that determines when the
hedgehog goes into hibernation. Thus, if a hedgehog is brought into the Centre
in October - weighing, for example, 200g - it must be kept warm in order to
prevent it from hibernating. Once it has undergone a full course of treatment
and we can be sure that its lack of weight is, indeed, its only problem,
Wildlives may foster it out to a member of the public who has the necessary
time and facilities. We do this because, otherwise, the hospital becomes full
of perfectly healthy, albeit underweight, hedgehogs, and there is no room for
those that are really sick.
|The idea of fostering is simply that the hedgehog
will be kept in a warm place and well supplied with food. A garden shed or
garage will usually be too cold - so ideally, we look for people who are able
to keep the hedgehog inside the house, or who have some other heated
outbuilding. Even aside from the matter of accomodation and the cost of food
however, fostering a hedgehog is quite a considerable responsibility. Cute
though they are, they are dirty little creatures, and need cleaning out twice a