Hedgehogs overwinter in the garden: how to make space for hedgehogs in winter!

In this post we explain why you should give a hedgehog a cozy place to overwinter in your garden and how you can best design it. We show the advantages of having a hedgehog as a roommate in the garden. There are also exciting hedgehog facts and many practical tips for peaceful coexistence in the hedgehog garden.

Before we show you step by step how to let a hedgehog hibernate in your garden, you should know a few things about these cute animals.

Hibernating hedgehogs in the garden – everything you need to know about hedgehogs at a glance

  • The hedgehog is one of the oldest mammal species that we humans know. He even survived the ice ages. His spiked dress, in which he is already born, consists of horny hair that is hollow on the inside. A hedgehog carries around 8,000 spines. Each of these spines can be controlled by a mini muscle.
  • The two most common types of hedgehog are the brown-breasted hedgehog in the whole country, the northern white-breasted hedgehog is only found in a few regions. The hedgehog is a so-called cultural follower, it follows us humans into our settlements because it finds advantages there.
  • The widespread brown-breasted hedgehog is a loner, a typical hedgehog area can be up to one square kilometer (male). Hedgehogs are shy animals, but not escape animals – if they sense danger, they curl up in a ball: so-called hedgehog. A hedgehog throws between four and seven hedgehog children and raises them alone. If she is disturbed by humans, she also leaves her children, so that they then perish.
  • Hedgehogs are insect eaters. Their menu includes ground beetles, moths and butterflies, invertebrates, including earthworms and snails, spiders, bird eggs and small mammals. If you have a snail plague in the garden, you can look forward to hedgehogs. Hedgehogs actually only eat windfalls because of the worms and maggots they contain. Hedgehogs prefer to roam short meadows to forage. Animals living in dead wood are also happy to eat hedgehog food.

Hedgehogs overwinter in the garden: This is what the perfect hedgehog garden looks like

Hedgehogs love garden landscapes with low hedges, shrubs and bushes, under which they can build their sleeping nests and nests for rearing their young out of moss, grass and leaves and hide. Compost and brushwood piles are also popular retreats for the hedgehog. Basically, a hedgehog is quite undemanding, a small, quiet area in the hedgehog garden is enough for him to feel comfortable. It is best to let the hedgehog corner run wild, the hedgehog will thank you!

Hibernating hedgehogs in the garden – the best tips and tricks

Hedgehogs are out and about looking for food until mid-November before they go into hibernation. It takes a long time, usually from November to the coming spring. The hibernation must be safe, because the hedgehog minimizes its metabolism during its hibernation: heart activity, breathing and body temperature are drastically reduced. The hiding place should also be neither too cold nor too warm (risk of waking up and increasing energy consumption) or too damp. Good to know: Urban hedgehogs also hibernate, although the temperatures in the city are noticeably higher than in the countryside.

What is the best way to design the shelter for the hedgehog to spend the winter in the garden? A dense pile of leaves, a “wild” pile of wood or brushwood are enough for the hedgehog to hibernate. If you want to make it even more comfortable, you can build an extra winter quarters for the hedgehog:

The right place for the hedgehog to overwinter in the garden – this is how you can quickly build it yourself!

Hedgehogs themselves are not good builders. As is well known, in addition to natural nests, they enjoy dwellings set up especially for them. They can also be bought ready-made in well-stocked gardening shops. Or you can build it yourself in a few simple steps:

A residence for hedgehogs to overwinter in the garden can be made from

  • Wood
  • or stone (natural stone, concrete stone, brick)

can be built by simply layering the material firmly on top of each other, with the footprint of the hedgehog’s nest being about 30 by 30 centimeters (cm). The measure also applies to the height. You can cover the self-built quarters for the hedgehog to spend the winter in the garden with a suitable paving slab or board.

Alternatively, the hedgehog also feels comfortable in a correspondingly large planter or a fruit box if they both turn upside down.

The entrance to the winter quarters should be around 10 cm so that the hedgehog can walk in and out comfortably, but no other larger animals such as cats or dogs. It is best to orient it to the side facing away from the weather, i.e. in our latitudes towards the south-east, then the hedgehog is well protected from wild autumn storms and icy winter winds.

Our tip: Since the hedgehog has to pee even during its hibernation, it is advisable to place the shelter on a kind of trickle bed. To do this, dig a shallow pit, which you fill with pebbles or sand. On top you put wooden boards. Then put the hedgehog’s shelter in the garden over the winter and stuff it comfortably. It is best to use loose, dry straw or leaves for interior decoration.

Such a place for hedgehogs to spend the winter in the garden should definitely be insulated from the outside so that the hedgehog is comfortably warm inside. The following are basically:

  • turf,
  • sticks,
  • foliage
  • or bark

suitable, which you layer on the outside.

Our tip: If you have built the hedgehog winter nest out of an old fruit crate, a suitable plastic film to cover on top will help to keep the shelter wind and waterproof.

Hedgehog overwintering in the garden: please do not disturb!

Finally, we will give you a few tips that will make it easier for you and the hedgehog to spend the winter in the garden.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal. During the day they prefer to stay hidden in their protected nest. Their foraging for food, which usually takes place at dusk, can hardly be overheard, because a hedgehog eats its food with loud chatter and grunts. Please let the cute animals eat in peace and do not disturb them. Experience has shown that there are enough opportunities to meet the prickly garden roommate and watch him on his forays.

So that nothing happens to him, you should only grow native plants in the garden and not use any poisonous plants or poisons. Holes, pits and shafts must be safely covered. A garden pond should always have a hedgehog-friendly, shallow access to the drinking point, if necessary with an exit aid. If there is no garden pond, please provide the hedgehog with drinking water, which should be fresh every day.

In autumn, please make sure to search piles of leaves and brushwood before you burn them down if necessary.

Pay particular attention to the quiet around the hedgehog’s winter quarters, especially in winter. Waking up prematurely from hibernation resulted in the hedgehog using too much energy and, in the worst case, not surviving the winter.

If you have a well-founded suspicion that the hedgehog that overwinters in your garden is in need, you should not experiment for a long time, but seek advice from experts!

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