April/May in the wild
Hedgehogs should now be beginning to wake up as the daylight hours and temperature increases. They will be very hungry so eating to build up fat lost over the winter months is a priority.
Hedgehogs will also be scouting for suitable nesting sites as well as potential mates. We can help by leaving out cat/dog food and water for them.
Please also remember when you start to venture out into the garden and start all the jobs you have been putting off for weeks such as striming, sweeping, tidying out sheds etc, please tread carefully and check the areas for hedgehogs or any other animals who may be there.
During May the mating begins. If you hear a lot of snuffling and grunting it is probably hedgehogs in the garden. The male will circle the female sometimes for hours until she finally gives in and mates. The male will then disppear and takes no part in rearing the young.
Vixens will now have given birth with the average size being 4 or 5 cubs. The cubs are born deaf, blind and unable to regulate their body temperature so mum will rarely leave them. The cubs will begin to emerge from the den from mid April onwards but stay with mum until Autumn when they will then go their own way.
In May the vixen will start to wean the cubs off milk by lying away from them and bringing in solid food.
It is this behaviour that leads many to believe that cubs out on their own during the day, with no adult apparently around, must have been abandoned. To ensure this is not the case a good idea is to put down an egg about five feet from the earth. Cubs at this age will not be able to pick it up and move it, and the fox is really the only animal apart from badgers that will actually take the egg away. In short if the egg’s gone it means there's a fair chance an adult has visited the cubs.
At this time of year birds are beginning to think about starting the process of raising young. There will be an increase in bird activity in the garden and you will see birds collecting various materials to build nests. Some birds such as the Long Tailed Tit may already have built a nest but egg laying doesn't begin until April.
Birds will incubate their eggs depending on the weather, they need to time the hatching of the eggs around the time when there is plenty of food such as caterpillars and grubs around to feed their young. So when the weather is warm less incubation is needed and when cold more time is spent on the nest. This is also the time to start hearing the beautiful dawn chorus.