The Hedgehog’s Habitat And Environment (Where Do Hedgehogs Live?)

Hedgehogs are marvelous little creatures that are full of mystery and excitement. They are often seen as cute little animals to watch out for – especially in the fall time – but there is a lot more to these little animals than just their adorable size!

Hedgehogs like living in shubs, bushes or hedges, where they build nests or sometimes dig burrows where they sleep during the day. They generally avoid big, open spaces, and are quite discreet creatures. At night they come out to look for food, such as insects and slugs, and they can move as much as a couple of miles in one night. They generally like staying in the same area, but they aren’t teritorrial.

Here we will detail all you need to know about the hedgehog’s habitat and daily patterns.

Are Hedgehogs Territorial?

There have been several tracking studies carried out on hedgehogs to get a better understanding of whether or not they are territorial. The simple answer is that no, they do not appear to be so.

Hedgehogs aren’t territorial in a way where they establish territories where they’re the dominant individual. They do however have “home ranges” which is the general area where they live, but it’s not to be considered “territory” per say, because they’ll gladly share it with other hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs will fight each other, however, but this mainly happens when they’re kept in close proximity to each other in a restricted space and not out in the wild. So, this may simply be a case of lack of personal space and not an invasion of territory!

The hedgehogs’ “home ranges” is a certain amount of area that they consider to their home and that they will rarely venture outside of. Since they are not territorial animals they will not fight any other animals, or hedgehogs, that roam into their space. They are rather peaceful in this regard.

How Much Ground Do They Cover?

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 2 kilometers 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 3 kilometers.

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 to visit 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.


Are Hedgehogs Good For Your Yard?

The simple answer is yes. Hedgehogs are fantastic animals to find in your yard as they actually help to keep it in order and aid you with unwanted visitors.

For example, pests such as slugs (which can be a particular nuisance if you are growing lettuce or other vegetables) are a delicacy to the little hedgehog! Their appetite means that you can end up with a garden that is free of slugs as well as other unwanted creatures such as beetles, caterpillars, and some other smaller insects. 

However, if you are indeed growing vegetables in your garden and find that you often have hedgehog visitors then make sure you do not use any pesticides or pellets as these can be fatal or, at the very least, poisonous to the hedgehog if ingested. 


Are Hedgehogs Nocturnal?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal. Their natural sleep cycle is basically the exact opposite of human beings! Typically their day begins around our dinner time and then they go to bed when we normally wake up.

This means that, unfortunately, they can be quite hard to keep a track of and to see. But, if you are lucky enough then you should be able to catch a glimpse of them after dinner but before bed. 

If you have decided to keep a hedgehog as a pet then you may want to keep this in mind, especially if you have provided then a cage with a wheel! The nighttime sounds of your nocturnal little pet may be a little bit too much and keep you awake at night.

Although the majority of hedgehogs are nocturnal there are in fact a few species who have been found to be active during the day! 

Where Do They Hang Out At Night?

Hedgehogs really enjoy the peace and quiet and so you will not often find them exposed out in the open. Instead, they prefer to hide among the bushes and leaves in the darker areas of a garden, giving themselves both privacy and protection by doing so.

However, as I have already said they can cover quite the distance, especially when they are in the mood to do so! So, although they prefer to keep themselves hidden they will not stay in one spot all night and instead will choose to “do the rounds”, keeping to their daily routine of places to visit. 


Where Do Hedgehogs Hide During The Day?

Hedgehogs create nests 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!


Do Hedgehogs Burrow?

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 will choose to curl up under a small or large pile of leaves 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.


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!


Can Hedgehogs Dig Up Your Yard?

Yes, just as they can burrow a hedgehog can indeed dig up your yard. However, thankfully given their preference to build their burrows or nests in more enclosed areas such as under your bushes, hedges, etc. it is very unlikely that you will come across a hedgehog burrow in the middle of your lawn! 

Instead, you may come across small holes that are roughly the size of your thumbprint. This is just the hedgehog digging around in the search for food. They are not known to dig anything much bigger than this out in the open, instead of keeping to the cover of bushes.

If you do happen to find a hole larger than your thumbprint in size then it is more likely that this was caused by a larger animal, such as a fox or badger, rather than by a hedgehog. Although you may find small holes over your lawn they are not known to cause too much damage. 

Instead, look for signs that you had other visitors in the night. They may be the cause of your dug up lawn, not the hedgehogs.


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 travelled a little bit too far in one direction!


Do Hedgehogs Curl Up In A Ball When They Sleep?

Yes, hedgehogs can curl up in a ball when they sleep, but they can also sleep in a more relaxed position such as being stretched out or in a less tightly curled ball. Basically, their sleeping position depends on their threat level and how much danger they believe themselves to be in.

By curling up in a very tight ball a hedgehog protects itself from predators and unwanted guests thanks to its very sharp spikes protruding from its skin. These spikes mean that the predator cannot get anywhere near the hedgehog’s body or face and so they act as a deterrent.

If the hedgehog is unsure about its safety, for example, if there is the smell of a badger in the garden and they know that the animal was there recently then sleeping in a tightly curled ball is a very good idea. The ball shape will keep the hedgehog safe.

However, this is not always the case. For example, if you have a hedgehog as a pet who is well aware that there is no danger to be found inside of your house or a particular room, then you may often see it sleeping in a more relaxed position such as being stretched out or in a more loosely curled ball.

This is because the hedgehog will simply sleep in a certain position to be comfortable rather than for safety purposes. 

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. 

So, they may still 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 surgery or nature organization to ask them any questions that you may have an receive the correct and appropriate support.

Conclusion

Hedgehogs are incredibly interesting creatures whose habits and routines are wonderfully fascinating. If you are lucky enough then they can be observed from the comfort of your own home and there is no need to disturb them. However, they are not dangerous so if you become really curious you can indeed get up close and personal with them and maybe even interact!

You can always encourage hedgehogs to visit your garden or help hedgehog visitors that you already have by creating a fantastic environment for them. You can make small piles of leaves, twigs and other natural objects that either the hedgehog can burrow into to keep themselves warm overnight or that they can use to make their own nests somewhere else. 

Checking for hedgehogs in piles of leaves before getting rid of them in the bin and also checking for hedgehogs in bonfires before lighting them are important ways to care for the animals. 

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