Hedgehog

Erinaceus europaeus

Grainneóg

Hedgehog

Are hedgehogs native to Ireland?

No. Hedgehogs are believed to have been introduced to Ireland by humans, perhaps by the Normans in the 13th century.

Where do hedgehogs live?

Hedgehogs live in woodlands, hedgerows, and gardens. They do not like coniferous woods, high mountains, or wet areas.

Do hedgehogs travel far?

A foraging hedgehog may travel 3km in a night. Within their territory they may have several different places to sleep.

Do hedgehogs hibernate?

Yes. Usually they start to hibernate in October or November, depending on the weather. They may wake up and feed during a mild spell. Or they may sleep through to March or April. A young hedgehog needs to weigh at least 450g to survive hibernation.

When are baby hedgehogs born?

June is the commonest month for babies to be born. The mother makes a big maternity nest, and gives birth to 4 or 5 babies. (And, yes, the spines are soft at birth!) Mother hedgehogs are easily disturbed and may kill or abandon the babies. After 3 weeks the babies start to leave the nest, and by 5 weeks they are weaned.

Do hedgehogs live in groups?

Hedgehogs are solitary for the most part, although their territories may overlap, and they may meet other hedgehogs quite often.

Do hedgehogs make noises?

Oh yes! Hedgehogs snuffle and snort as they forage, and can scream like a banshee when in distress.

What do hedgehogs eat?

Hedgehogs eat all types of bugs - beetles, worms, slugs, earwigs, spiders, etc. They also like eggs, small mammals, and carrion, and will take berries and fruit occasionally.

What eats hedgehogs?

Few creatures can get through the hedgehogs prickly armour, but badgers can. Where there are many badgers, like in Glendalough, there are few or  no hedgehogs. Foxes also eat the odd hedgehog.

What else kills hedgehogs?

Cars are the greatest killer of hedgehogs. Pesticides such as slug pellets also poison many poor hedgehogs. Some hedgehogs get speared with a garden fork, or burnt, as they hide in piles of garden rubbish. Steep sided cattle grids or garden ponds are also lethal; always provide an escape ramp for hedgehogs.

How long do hedgehogs live?

Life in the wild can be tough, and 3 years is considered an average life span, but some lucky survivors can live as long as 10 years.

Are hedgehogs protected?

Yes. If you want to keep one in captivity for some reason (because is it ill, perhaps), you must apply to the National Parks and Wildlife Service for a license. You can not sell a hedgehog.

If I see a hedgehog wandering around in daylight, is it ill?

Very possibly. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so any found wandering in daylight may be ill and may require help.

Can I feed a  hedgehog in my garden?

Yes. Canned cat food is the ideal  snack for a tame hedgehog. Do not feed bread and milk. The milk is not digestible and may make the poor hedgehog very ill.

 

 

 

National Parks & Wildlife Service, 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2. Phone: +353 1 8882000 Fax: +353 1 8883272