Friday, 13 April 2012
Sorry about the large gap since my last blog. I decided after all my travels and learning about other things it was time to try hibernating and learn about being a British hedgehog.
Hedgehog hibernation depends on the weather conditions and begins when the temperature turns colder, usually around November to January, and ends around mid-March to early April. Our food, such as slugs, snails and caterpillars, is more difficult to find during this time so it makes sense to conserve our energy - during hibernation a hedgehog’s metabolism is almost at a standstill. If we live somewhere where it stays warm, or live indoors and there is enough food we don’t need to hibernate. So this is why I have never tried hibernating before as people tend to keep me warm and feed me cat food when slugs and snails aren’t available. I also like muesli and raisins very much (always worth telling people what you like to eat I think just in case you go to visit them).
Hedgehogs start looking for the best place to build a nest to hibernate in towards the end of autumn, liking under hedges, by the roots of trees and inside old rabbit burrows. Urban hedgehogs also like underneath sheds and inside compost heaps. Nests may look a bit messy and are made up of things like old leaves and grass. I admit I didn’t start looking until after Winter Solstice and then I didn’t have to look very far to find a nice comfy bed going spare. I didn’t bring in any old leaves as I didn’t think it would be appreciated and the quilt is much comfier.
When hedgehogs hibernate we become immobile, our body's temperature drops to around 10˚c, our heart rate decreases to only 20 beats per minute (as opposed to the usual approximate 190 beats per minute and we only breath once every few minutes.
I woke up a few times while I was hibernating. Once because Biscuit the cat moved into the bed while Judith was visiting so I moved back out into the doll’s cot for the night. The second time because it was my birthday and I didn’t want to miss out on any potential presents and party food. I did think about staying awake then as I gave June a hand with the new Books page on the Indie Shaman website but once I got back into bed the temptation to go back into hibernation and learn more from Grandmother Hedgehog was too much.
The third time I woke up was because Rochelle was here. Rochelle and June went on a Walk with Wolves and brought back my new friend, Laputa. He is only a young wolf so once Rochelle had gone I let him sleep with me as he still likes to sleep as part of the pack. (You can see some of the photos from the Walk with Wolves Day on June's Facebook)
Other hedgehogs also wake up fairly frequently for a day or two during their hibernation but rarely leave their nests. If the weather becomes too cold we tend to wake up and go and build another nest as it’s dangerous for us to get too cold. If you see a hedgehog wobbling, staggering or rocking it needs help as that is a sign of hypothermia - sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs are very susceptible to hypothermia. They may also look like they are sunbathing as they spread themselves out in the sun to try to get some heat. Hedgehogs with hypothermia can be helped by taking them indoors and putting them in a box with a well-wrapped hot water bottle underneath them. Don’t let the bottle get cold and ring a hedgehog rescue centre such as Secret World Wildlife Rescue or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
I’m going to stay awake now. The spring edition of the Indie Shaman Magazine is due from Minuteman Press today. It’s got some great articles in it and some wonderful photographs by Rochelle, including some of wolves I want to show Laputa. Plus I’ve heard talk about a trip to Wales so I may see if I can smuggle myself into the caravan without anyone noticing.
Promise not to leave it so long to my next blog!