The Hedgehog’s Habitat (Environment and Living Conditions)

While hedgehogs are well-loved pets in many households, they are also native to various parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Since hedgehogs are naturally wild animals, you likely wonder what kind of habitat hedgehogs live in.

While the habitat that hedgehogs live in will depend on the species, hedgehogs can live in nearly every environment, such as urban parks, deserts, and meadows. However, you will not find hedgehogs in pine forests or in very wet climates. Now, let us take a deeper dive into a hedgehog’s habitat!

What Kind Of Habitat Do Hedgehogs Prefer?

While hedgehogs can be happy in various habitats, most species of hedgehogs will prefer to live in suburban, hedgerow, and woodland habitats. These habitats have comfortable climates along with lots of food sources for them.

How Big Is A Hedgehog’s Habitat?

Studies that tracked a number of hedgehogs by radio found that the average distance covered by the hedgehogs was 10 to 20 hectares in area, with the exact ground size varying depending on the sex of the hedgehog observed and also the time of year that the study was conducted. 

Despite its small size, a hedgehog can commonly cover a distance of 1.5 miles overnight. This means that if you spot one in your garden in the evening, they may well be long gone by the time you wake up in the morning!

However, if the hedgehog is male and is observed during the breeding season then he can even cover a distance of up to 2-2.5 miles.

A long distance for such a small animal!

Do Hedgehogs Return To The Same Garden?

Although hedgehogs are not territorial animals they do seem to have a “home range” which they will often frequent over and over again, and you’ll often be able to observe the same hedgehogs in your yard multiple times. Hedgehogs do return to the same garden.

They have a rather strict routine and can often be found visiting the same places (such as gardens, fields, ponds, etc.) at roughly the same time every night. They are certainly creatures of habit and habitat!

If you have a nesting female hedgehog in your garden do not be worried if she appears to disappear for a few days at a time. This is perfectly normal. Hedgehogs may not even return to the same nest, they may simply make a new one in your garden in a different spot.

Do Hedgehogs Live In Hedges?

Hedgehogs do live in hedges, and a part of why they are called hedgehogs is that they are hog-like animals usually found near hedgerows.

In fact, hedgehogs often choose to live in hedges and bushes since the hedges offer excellent protection from predators along with corridors for them to run through, as well as plenty of snails, slugs, and insects for the hedgehog to eat

These hedges are also excellent places for hedgehogs to build nests. 

Do Hedgehogs Live In Cities?

While you may not see hedgehogs wandering busy streets, hedgehogs do live in the cities, especially in Europe and the British Isles. Plus, a study has found that there are more hedgehogs in urban areas than in the nearby countryside.

It’s quite common to find hedgehogs lurking around suburban parks and gardens. This is especially true when these parks offer lots of shrubbery and bushes for hedgehogs to hide in. 

Do Hedgehogs Live In Trees?

Hedgehogs never live in trees. While hedgehogs can climb trees, they’re not particularly good at it. They sometimes climb small trees to avoid predators and to find food. However, hedgehogs will not find shelter in trees since they cannot build nests in them and much prefer staying on the ground.

Do Hedgehogs Live In Forests?

Hedgehogs do live in forests, but you will not find them in dense pine forests, and especially not in jungles or rainforests. These conditions do not offer enough shelter and food sources for a hedgehog to thrive. 

Do Hedgehogs Live In Deserts?

Certain species, such as the desert hedgehog, can live in arid deserts. This hedgehog species is usually found in deserts in the Middle East and parts of Africa.

Do Hedgehogs Burrow or Nest?

Yes, hedgehogs do indeed burrow! In fact, their little claws can be quite powerful when it comes to this activity. Hedgehogs will often make burrows that can be up to 50 cm (20 inches) in depth! 

Although they are perfectly capable of making their own burrows in which they snuggle up they are also very clever and may make use of any unused burrows that have been left behind by other creatures, adapting these to suit themselves and certainly saving themselves a lot of effort!

However, although a lot of hedgehogs do indeed burrow it does not necessarily mean that this is where they will choose to sleep.

So, be aware of this if you are on the lookout for a few cute little hedgehogs in your garden! They may choose to curl up under a small or large pile of leaves, or an improvised “nest” just as often as they may choose to hide in a burrow.

So, basically, as long as there is somewhere that will keep them warm, tucked away, and out of sight then you may well find a small hedgehog hidden there.

Why Do Hedgehogs Need A Burrow or a Nest?

Hedgehogs need a nest or burrow because that’s where hedgehogs find shelter. A burrow serves as a place of rest, hibernation, and protection for hedgehogs, which is why they pick habitats where they have plenty of burrowing opportunities.

Moreover, pregnant hedgehogs live in burrows for almost all of their pregnancy until they give birth. 

Occasionally, you may mistake a wild hedgehog for burrowing when they are actually digging. Hedgehogs will often dig in search of food like insects and worms, making it seem like they are making a burrow.

What Does A Hedgehog Nest Look Like?

Hedgehogs are very resourceful when it comes to building their nests and so they will often use things that can be found nearby such as leaves, twigs, and other natural items that have fallen to the ground.

This often means that a hedgehog nest can be very difficult to distinguish from other parts of your garden such as just a normal pile of leaves.

Not only is the hedgehog’s nest sometimes difficult to spot, given that it blends into its surroundings as this is literally what it was built from, but the hedgehog itself may be very difficult to see. This is thanks to its brown coloring which will often blend into the natural colors of your garden that surround it!

Do Hedgehogs Return To The Same Nest?

Hedgehogs have been known both to return to the same nest and also to abandon a nest, move on, and build a new one. There is no set rule in this regard and often the hedgehog will simply do as it pleases!

They will spend some time building a nest and settling down for the day before getting up to roam around and forage during the night.

Often they will stay within a particular boundary or distance that they are comfortable with and depending on their activities during the night they may either choose to return to their original nest from the day before or they may simply choose to build a new one!

They will often know where a number of different nests are located so that they will not have to turn around and travel all the way back to their original nest if they have traveled a little bit too far in one direction!

What Kind Of Food Sources Do Hedgehogs Need?

As insectivores, hedgehogs require a lot of insects, which is why they need to be in areas where insects would be. Hedgehogs will also eat some plants, which makes meadows, parks, hedgerows, and gardens perfect habitats since vegetation and insects can be found there.

Very rarely, hedgehogs may also use small mammals as a food source, such as pinkie (baby) mice – if they can find them. A hedgehog probably won’t be able to catch an adult mouse, though.

Do Hedgehogs Need To Live Near Water?

Generally, hedgehogs do not need to live near big bodies of water since hedgehogs only need a few tablespoons of water a day. Normally, wild hedgehogs can easily quench their thirst by finding puddles and dew.

However, it would not be uncommon to find hedgehogs near water sources either. Usually, they will swim through small puddles or cross lakes while foraging.

Where Do Hedgehogs Hide During The Day?

Hedgehogs create nests or burrows to keep themselves hidden away from any dangers and also to keep themselves warm.

Just like when they are wandering during the night, even in the day hedgehogs prefer to keep themselves hidden out of sight and so they will often choose to build their nests tucked away under bushes, hedges, shrubs, etc. Anything that will provide them with a bit of protection when they are sleeping.

They will often build their nests out of twigs, leaves and anything else that they can find easily on the ground and that can be moved by the weight of a hedgehog! This is why it is particularly important to check your piles of leaves and bonfires in the fall time before disposing of them or burning them!

You must remember to check for little hedgehogs who are just looking for a little bit of protection from the elements!

Where Do Hedgehogs Hibernate?

During hibernation hedgehogs will tuck themselves out of sight as much as possible in order to keep themselves safe. For example, they will snuggle up in deep burrows dug under a row of hedges at the perimeter of your garden.

The more tucked away and out of sight the hedgehog can make itself the safer it will be during the winter period while it hibernates.

Hibernation means that a hedgehog will curl up in a ball and drop its body temperature to roughly the same temperature as its surroundings. Although hibernation is commonly thought of as a long sleep, this is not really the case. In fact, they are just in a very relaxed resting state which allows them to conserve as much energy as possible. 

This means that hedgehogs still may appear every now and then in your garden in order to look for a quick snack before swiftly returning to their nest. They have also been known to switch between nests during the hibernation period. However, this is more common on warmer days over the winter period.

If it is a particularly cold day then do not get your hopes up of seeing a hedgehog out and about in your garden!

What Should I Do If There Is a Hedgehog in the Middle of My Garden?

Hedgehogs are not an animal to fear but are in fact a lovely sight to see in your garden! They can make a great addition to your garden as they will rid your garden of unwanted pests such as small insects and slugs.

If you like, you can help the hedgehog by making small piles of leaves around the outside of your garden or near any bushes, shrubs, or hedges. This way you can help the hedgehog out and build them a nest for the day when they want to go to sleep!

Even if you spot a hedgehog out on your lawn in the middle of the day do not be alarmed. Sometimes female hedgehogs will go out looking for food in the middle of the day – this is not an incredibly uncommon occurrence. However, this is not the norm. 

If you notice that the hedgehog is spending a large amount of time exposed in the middle of your lawn, or that the hedgehog is injured then it may be best to call a local vet or nature organization to ask them any questions that you may have an receive the correct and appropriate support.

Can Hedgehogs Adapt To Different Environments?

Hedgehogs can adapt to certain environments depending on the species. Given that they have shelter and a source of food, hedgehogs will be able to make the most out of any area you put them in.

For instance, higher hedgehog populations have been found in urban gardens and parks compared to the countryside. While surprising, it’s because hedgehogs have learned to adapt to the ever-growing urbanized areas where they thrive even better than they do in the wild. Many of them prefer these urban districts since they have more food sources.

Notably, hedgehogs also have the skills to dodge predators in new environments. If their pointy quills do not deter predators, hedgehogs can climb trees and burrow underground to escape, making them highly adaptive creatures.

However, hedgehogs cannot readily move to all kinds of environments. For example, most hedgehogs from the British Isles would not thrive in dense pine forests or very wet areas. These areas would not have dry and soft enough soil to burrow in.

What Impact Do Hedgehogs Have On The Environment?

One of the largest impacts that hedgehogs have on the environment is how they control the population of insects. Since hedgehogs are insectivores, they play an important role in keeping the number of insects down in a given area. 

Some hedgehogs may even eat small mammals like baby mice. This helps control the rodent population. While they may not frequently eat small rodents, hedgehogs will do so when they have the chance.

A hedgehog’s burrowing habits can also be useful to other animals. Since hedgehogs are avid diggers but not territorial, they will often abandon the tunnels and burrows they make. As such, other animals can make use of these tunnels and burrows.

Moreover, hedgehogs can help improve the plant life in many areas that they are in by aerating soil as they dig. Plus, hedgehogs can disperse seeds as they wander, helping more plants grow.

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