Are there many hedgehogs in northern part of Sweden? YES! YES!
We are living in Umeå, around 650 km north of Stockholm.
Temperatures during winters here can drop down to minus 35-40°C.
But in the summer it is a hedgehog paradise. Sometimes it is
possible to meet several of them just during one evening walk. But
you need to know where to look and how to find them. Our
living area is situated close to the forest, protect
besides, in the summer it is never really dark up
north! Usually, in the end of August I am starting to put out some food to
help them in preparation for the winter sleep. They are really
great eaters. This gives me opportunity to meet them every evening.
This is like some kind of addiction!
Click on a photo if you would like to read a hedgehog
Hedgehog (in Latin Erinaceus sp.) - is a small ball of more
than 7000 spines, four legs and a small tail. It's favorite habitats
are edges of forests, gardens and parks. They are active during
evenings and nights, resting between five in the morning and eight in
the evening. Hedgehogs are rather lonely creatures, and they are
easily starting fights with each other. Their life span is from six
to ten years.
their sight and hearing are rather good but the smell is
excellent. His nose is always wet. Even a worm hidden 3 cm under
the ground will not be safe from a hedgehog.
Huge. Especially welcome by passionate gardeners. Hedgehog food
includes: worms, insects (bees and spiders), snakes and mice. In
critical situations also berries. The hedgehog with the same
appetite will consume both, fresh and a bit unfresh food.
crawling (through VERY narrow places)
walking (up to 3 km per night)
running (quite fast)
swimming (through rivers and streams)
birds (magpie, crow, jackdaw, owls)
Quick muscle contraction to make a spiky ball. A hedgehog can
stay like that for a long time until he feels the danger is gone.
Hedgehogs like many other animals are in the danger of extinction
caused by a constant decrease of their living places like bushes
and hedges and intensive traffic.
Click on a photo if you would like to read a hedgehog story!!
One year with the hedgehog
Hedgehogs are waking up from the winter sleep (hibernation), when
the temperature raises to around +10°C. They are VERY thirsty,
and desperately try to find something to drink. Milk given at
that time can even cause their death. More than on searching for
food they are concentrated on searching for the love partner. It
can take several hours of running around a female before the male
is admitted. His role ends up here. Female is searching for a
safe and calm place for the nest for her and small hoglets, which
are born around 30 days after.
Can be born twice a year, covered by 100 spines, blind during
their first two weeks of life. They are fed by mother's milk for
4 to 8 weeks. Afterwards their mother is showing how to find
food. After two months the hedgehog mother stops caring for her
hoglets and let them live on their own. Around 90 % of hoglets
will not survive their first year....
Hoglets and mature hedgehogs are gaining in weight. Average meal
consists of more than 40 grams of food.
Hedgehogs are mainly concentrated on eating! They can eat up to
200grams of food per night. Their lower weight limit is 500 grams
to be able to survive the winter. Adult hedgehogs can weight up
to 2.5 kg. They are building their winter nest (hibernaculum),
bringing small pieces of branches and grasses. Sometimes the nest
can have an isolation layer of 50 cm. They can also sleep under
wooden steps or in other man made places.
Hedgehogs are sleeping in their nests. Body temperature drops
down to 9°C. Breathing 1 to 10 times per minute. Heart beats are
1/10 of their normal rate. Hedgehog will wake up few times, but
does not eat anything and falls asleep again. A hedgehog waken up
from his winter sleep too early will starve to death...
Hopefully hedgehogs are waking up again!
Click on a photo if you would like to read a hedgehog
Would you like to help to preserve hedgehogs? Invite a hedgehog
to your garden!
Hedgehogs can eat up many unwanted insects.
Leave out piles of branches and leafs.
If you can leave some parts of the garden uncultivated.
A hedgehog friendly garden is as well children friendly
deep holes in the ground should be secured
pieces of wire, sharp net should be removed
no poison or aggressive chemicals are allowed to lay around
Please, be careful in the spring time, when you plan to burn piles of
dry branches and leafs, it can be a hedgehog home! If you have a
pond: make sure that there is some way for a hedgehog to get out of
it, like a piece of wood on the edge.
You can put out some food and fresh water just after getting
dark, but be aware that this can also attract other animals to
Hedgehog in your garden by Doreen King
Kingdom Books 1996, ISBN 185279021-0
What can they eat?
The hedgehogs I have been feeding did not like especially: potatoes,
onions and cornflakes. Hedgehog food: Spike's Dinner - available in
Great Britain from Perky Petfoods.
Cat (especially Whiskas) and dog food, dry and wet
Cream mixed with water
Generally leftovers from your dinners (but not vegetables).
Remember to give them food in clean plates and don't forget about
Please DO NOT move hedgehogs from their places or take them
In case the hedgehog has lots of insects you can help him like that:
Prepare a bath using not too hot water
Use insect shampoo recommended for dogs and cats or only water
try not to make their ears wet during a bath
Do not use any powders
If the hedgehog is scared, stop the procedure.
Opinions about washing hedgehogs are divided, some say that they
will cope with insects themselves, some claim they can even die of
What is not true about hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs appeared on Earth 50 millions years ago and have not
changed too much since that time.
Hedgehogs can cope with a lot of poisons. One gram of poison
which would kill 300 people kills only 8 hedgehogs.
In the ancient Rome hedgehogs has been used as brushes!
They are definitely not carrying apples on their backs as they
used to be illustrated in children's books.
Encounters with hedgehogs
25th of August
VERY hungry hedgehog almost bites me in the finger when I am
giving him a piece of apple! what a creature...
27th of August
I am starting to put out some food every night and wait how many
of hedgehogs will show up. Surprise! One night it was eight of
them at the same time!!!
29th of August
Rain, rain, rain, but they are still coming to eat. Food is food.
1st of September
One hedgie fell asleep in the plate, at least he looked like. The
rule of thumb: don't let the other hedgehog get the food. The
best is: to just sit in it! That is what they do anyway...
5th of September
Today I have seen a real hedgehog fight. Two of quite big
hedgehogs were pushing each other with their foreheads, like two
7th of September
They have to like the food I am putting out, some of them weight
more than 1.5 kg and have problems to actually walk.
10th of September
Have you ever seen a hedgehog laying on the back? I have seen it
today. He just rolled himself on the back and has started to lick
himself on the fur. It was quite a fat hedgehog, so later on, he
had real problems to turn around and stand on his legs again. it
was looking really funny.
11th of September
Small hoglets are very easily scared and they run away very, very
fast. Maybe that is why they are so small?
13th of September
One big hedgehog was scratching himself very, very much. Oh, I
thought he has to have too many fleas, lets help him. I have put
some food out and waited until he came, than I slowly lifted him
up (my hands in the gloves). Kent has made a bath, and he was
pouring slowly water on our little friend. He seem to enjoy it,
at least he stayed quite calm. Flies (red!) were jumping in panic
in all directions. We had to change the water three times, it was
completely BLACK! That was an experience.
15th of September
One hedgehog has visited our neighbour, coming into her living
room trough the open door! I wish we could live on the ground
18th of September
From around ten hedgehogs which I have been seeing every evening
only the smallest ones are left. Those fat, old ones have already
found a place for their winter sleep. They are not coming
anymore, even though the autumn is very warm this year.
29th of September
One of those small hedgehogs is actually brown. I have never seen
it before. His nose is brown and the spikes are light brown.
5th of October
This was the last day I have seen any hedgehogs this
autumn...what a pity. One night was cold, -3C. They finally
decided to go to sleep. I wonder sometimes what are they going to
dream about during such a long time!
End of October
We have really warm autumn this year, but hedgehogs are not
showing up anymore!
Precious books about hedgehogs for children and not only:
"A rabbit and hedgehog story - a little bit of winter"
by P. Stewart, Andersen Press, London, 1998
ISBN 0 86264 998 6
"A rabbit and hedgehog story - The birthday presents"
by P. Stewart and Ch. Riddell, Andersen Press, London, 1999
ISBN 1 84270 035 9
"The winter hedgehog"
by A. and R. Cartwright, Mini Treasures, Red Fox
ISBN 0 09 972581 9
"Mattie - the story of a hedgehog"
by G.D.Griffiths, Transworld Publishers Ltd, 1967
by Jan Brett
"A Little Bit Of Winter"
by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Photos & text by Joanna & Kent
Click on a photo if you would like to read a small story!!!