Hedgehogs and Their Burrows (The Spiky Critters Nesting Behavior)


Everyone, animal or human, needs a place to live, somewhere that will shelter them and which they can call home. Not only do these places offer a place to rest but it also protects them from the outside and predators.

However, in the wilderness, it’s not as easy to find the perfect place. Animals either have to find a home or build it from scratch. Many animals do the latter and can create nests, lodges, or in the hedgehog’s case, a burrow.

A burrow is essentially a hole and tunnel in the ground for a hedgehog to squeeze in, but hedgehogs also often just go for a pile of leaves. While it might not seem like the most comfortable place to live, for our little friends, it is perfect. 

Where Do Hedgehogs Burrow?

Although hedgehogs can climb, they’re much better suited for staying on the ground, and they don’t seem fond of making their homes up in the trees.

They can either make nests or find existing shelters, but one of their most common strategies is to make a burrow. Using their digging skills, they can create their home in hole in the ground.

However, they can’t just make these burrows anywhere and so they search for the perfect spot.

Since this nest is somewhere they plan to live, it must protect them from the environment and predators. To ensure that, our clever friends have a system of finding the best place to dig. 

First, the shelter shouldn’t be out in the open. Predators would be able to get inside, and they’d be exposed to the weather. They build their shelters around fallen logs, under hedges, or piles of leaves, which ensures better protection and camouflage.

They might not need to build a shelter if they are lucky. Other hedgehogs may take dens owned by other animals, such as rabbit burrows. All the hedgehogs need to do is move inside.

Do Hedgehogs Dig Dens to Live In?

When hedgehogs burrow, they aim to create a shelter where they can nest and sleep easily. As our spikey friends sleep for long periods, sometimes as much as 18 hours a day, they need somewhere safe to sleep without fear of predators.

However, while it will serve as their home, it will be a temporary home. Most hedgehogs only stay in their burrows for a short time before leaving. Usually, they’ll only stay in that specific burrow for a few nights before moving to find another one. 

The only exception to this is during the winter season when hedgehogs go into hibernation. With the cold coming, hedgehogs have difficulty surviving out in the open, so they will hunker down and remain in their burrows for the whole season.

What Does A Hedgehog’s Burrow Look Like?

Hedgehog burrows are relatively simple things. Since they are temporary shelters, the only thing the shelter needs to do is protect the little critters from the elements. That means it needs to keep the cold out and allow the hedgehogs to get in and out quickly.

When they dig their burrows, hedgehogs dig deep in order to protect themselves from the cold and rain. The holes slope downward at a low angle rather than suddenly declining. This allows the hedgehog to easily go in and out whenever they like. Once the burrow is deep enough to ensure protection

How Deep Do Hedgehogs Burrow?

These industrious little critters are natural diggers. Even when they’re just a few weeks old, young hedgehogs already know how to dig and try to burrow in the ground. Because of that natural skill, they can make holes 20 inches or about 50 cm deep. 

While this is the average, some hedgehogs are found in much deeper holes, almost 30 inches or 80 cm in depth. These are rare, though, and it’s not clear whether or not these little fellas dug them themselves, or if they just found them. 

It is important to remember that these shelters are temporary in most cases so that hedgehogs won’t go very deep.

How Big Are Hedgehog Holes?

There is no definite answer to how big they are. Since they often take over burrows from other animals, it’s difficult to tell which ones are theirs.

However, most tend to be relatively small, just large enough for a single hedgehog to fit in. These little guys are not social animals and value their privacy, so their burrows are for them alone. The only exception is mothers raising their litter, which might need more room.

Additionally, as temporary homes, they don’t need to be very elaborate. All a burrow needs is a place for the hedgehog to sleep for a few nights. With that in mind, there isn’t enough time for the hole to get very large.

Do Hedgehogs Dig Tunnels?

Yes and no. Hedgehogs occasionally dig burrows that may be as deep as 20-30 inches. You could call that a tunnel, but most would probably just call it a hole in the ground.

Hedgehogs also don’t always dig burrows. These little mammals have no problem burrowing on their own, but they won’t do it if they don’t have to.

Hedgehogs are opportunistic homeowners; if there is a place already available, they will go for that instead of creating a new shelter. Why buy a cow when milk is free?

Other animals like rabbits make their own burrows and eventually leave them too. Once they’re gone, hedgehogs are happy to take their place for themselves.

Do Hedgehogs Arrange Their Dens With Nesting Materials?

Yes, especially during winter and mating season. One of our little friends’ main priorities is safety. Nesting materials serve that purpose for several reasons. As protection from predators, it can provide camouflage, and different materials can help keep elements out from their homes.

Depending on the season, hedgehogs will use different materials to ensure maximum comfort in their homes. Although standard materials include grass, leaves, and twigs.

Winter

Although there is no definite “winter” nest, the shelters these hedgehogs make need to be insulated and protected while they hibernate, so these nests tend to be thicker. The large ones are 2 feet in diameter with tightly woven walls.

To protect themselves, the hedgehogs use grass, moss, and bark, carefully arranged to absorb heat and waterproof the hole. These can have a thickness of several inches if necessary

Summer 

In contrast with winter nests, these summer areas have a build that allows unrestricted airflow. Although they use the same materials, such as plants, grass, and leaves, these are loosely set up to give more airflow into the nest.

These nests tend to resemble leaf piles or kindling for bonfires. That means if you see something like this, be careful that you’re not disturbing these little guys.

Do Hedgehogs Also Burrow Elsewhere?

Yes, once a hedgehog makes its burrow, they don’t stay there for life. It’s in their nature to dig, so they will keep creating new holes long after they finish the first one. Think of the little spikey creatures as travelers who only stay in one place for a while before moving out.

Once they leave that space, hedgehogs will go somewhere else secure and make their burrow there. The only exception is if the hedgehog is a mother taking care of the young, where burrowing is difficult. Instead, hedgehogs will prefer to hibernate in the hole they are.

Author: Quade Ong

Hello there, my name is Quade. I have been a writer for three years but an animal lover for over two decades. I grew up in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, which has given me the blessing of seeing all sorts of beautiful animals. Now I strive to learn not just about the animals I am from, but those all over the world!

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