As November unfolds and the crisp chill of winter begins to settle in, most hedgehogs in Poland have already embarked on their annual hibernation. However, amidst the quiet slumber of these spiky creatures, there’s a day that is eagerly marked on the calendar—November 10th, Hedgehog Day.
In Poland, where two distinct species of hedgehogs roam, the eastern hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor) and the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), the month of November holds a special significance. These charming creatures, with a body length of up to 30 cm, undergo a transformation in weight as the seasons change. Before their winter hibernation, hedgehogs can tip the scales at a hefty 2 kg, only to shed more than half of it during the winter months.
Hedgehogs’ Strategic Pursuit of Fat Reserves and Culinary Myths Unveiled
Summer becomes a bustling season for hedgehogs as they actively forage, amassing fat reserves crucial for their impending hibernation. Their diverse diet includes insects, earthworms, lizards, and even snakes, displaying a remarkable resistance to snake venom. Covering distances of up to 3 km in a single night, hedgehogs prove themselves as nocturnal hunters, preying on small rodents and bird eggs.
Dispelling a common misconception, the image of hedgehogs carrying apples on their backs is debunked. However, this doesn’t discount the fact that these spiky creatures do indulge in fruits, a dietary habit with roots stretching back to ancient times.
Into the Winter Slumber: The Fascinating Physiology of Hedgehog Hibernation
As temperatures drop to approximately 10⁰ C, hedgehogs enter a state of drowsiness, marked by a slowdown in vital functions like heart rate, metabolism, and respiration. Seeking suitable hibernation spots, they often choose piles of leaves, branches, or the burrows of other animals. During hibernation, their heart rate dramatically decreases from 180 to a mere 20 beats per minute, adopting a curled-up position with paws and snout tucked into their abdomen.
The crucial question arises: How can we aid these adorable predators during their challenging hibernation period?
- Leave Undeveloped Areas: Allow sections of your gardens to remain untouched, providing hedgehogs with undisturbed spaces.
- Create Open Spaces Under Fences: Ensure hedgehogs and other creatures can access these spaces, especially as hedgehogs contribute to plant health by feeding on snails.
- Leave Fallen Leaves and Branches: Maintain a hedgehog-friendly environment by keeping fallen leaves and branches, offering an ideal location for their winter sleep.
- Avoid Burning Autumn Remnants: Refrain from burning remnants of autumn cleanups, as this can pose a serious threat to hedgehogs.
- Build Hibernation Shelters: With just a few planks, construct a hibernation shelter for hedgehogs, providing a secure and warm refuge for these spiky residents.