Towards the end of Autumn 2013, when we were constantly sweeping up the leaves from the trees in our back garden, I put a “hoghouse” at the end of the garden near to our shed. We covered it with some of the fallen leaves, after putting a couple of handfuls of dry leaves inside for a prospective nest-builder. An essential hole was cut into the base of one of the fence panels to allow free passage between gardens. I had constructed the hoghouse from a large piece of external plywood earlier in the year using the same plan, from a book by Tony Soper, as the hoghouse I’d built two years ago. Why build two of them?
We were sure that the first house had been used for hibernation when, in the Spring, I carefully removed the roof to peep inside and see an obvious nest of leaves. It was just a hope that we might have another hedgehog looking to hibernate in our garden, since in the past we’d seen two hogs snuffling around our feet one late Summer evening in the twilight. Hedgehog food that was put out in the Autumn was regularly disappearing so it looked likely that at least one was still around. Then we saw a couple of cats at different times and we also get a fox in the garden, so what was eating the food?
I decided to position one of the security cameras so that it pointed at the dishes of food, in order to be sure that we were not feeding all the local moggies in the small hours of Autumn! Imagine our pleasant surprise when the rather fuzzy black and white images, from the infra-red cameras, showed a hedgehog feeding there on the very first night. And not only that but subsequent nights over a period of several weeks we saw that the hedgehog was joined very often by another hedgehog – even on some occasions by two more hoggy friends! Yes, we have had three hedgehogs visiting our garden, so naturally my wife said, “You’d better build another hoghouse soon.” (That’s on the list of things to do).
In addition to the hedgehogs we have had two foxes also arriving to partake of the special food, usually separately but sometimes together. But what we are most interested to find out is whether it is “normal” for a fox and a hedgehog to feed together, often side by side from the same dish! We have witnessed this several times, both “live” and on recordings. The hedgehog appears to be the more dominant feeder, often “hogging” the space, sometimes to the consternation of the fox when he obviously gets his nose prickled by the other diner! Once the fox jumped back in surprise and then slowly and hesitantly approached the dish, to cautiously put out a paw and try to scrape a morsel for itself. The hedgehog nonchalantly munched on!
If there are any experts out there who are able to answer this question, or provide more information we would be most grateful.