Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus, foraging amongst leaves in garden environment

Winter worries

Winter is coming and little Hedgehog is worried. She is only young and hasn't seen a winter before. How will she survive the winter without food?...

Hedgehog lived alone in an untidy patch of garden...

Hedgehog lived alone in an untidy patch of garden, behind the weeds and under the log where she could hide away during the day.

‘Time I was up and about’, she said to herself as the sun was setting.

It had been raining. Wet weather meant lots of slugs and worms and beetles.

But, as slugs and worms and beetles were what hedgehog ate, she didn’t mind at all.

She had just found a juicy-looking slug when she heard a voice.

‘Oh dear’, said Hedgehog.

Hedgehog didn’t like company. Other animals made her jumpy. It was a good job she had her prickles to keep her safe. She curled up into a tight ball, just in case.

‘Hello’, said Song Thrush.

When Hedgehog saw Song Thrush, she uncurled herself.

‘You gave me quite a scare’, she said.

‘Sorry,’ said Song Thrush.

Song Thrush ate snails and Hedgehog ate slugs, so they often bumped into each other at dusk when looking for food.

Usually they just said things like ‘Hello’ and ‘Good evening’.

‘Hello’, they said, and Hedgehog went on munching her slug. Song Thrush banged his snail on a rock to break the shell, a bit like you might break an eggshell to get at the egg.

Then Song Thrush said something else. He said ‘Winter is coming’.

Hedgehog looked around in alarm.

‘Winter?’ she asked in a small worried voice. She was only young and hadn’t seen a winter before.

‘It’s when the weather gets colder and wetter. It’s when food, like slugs and snails and beetles, get harder to find’, warned Song Thrush.

‘I won’t go hungry because I can eat berries from bushes’, boasted the Song Thrush.

Winter didn’t seem to bother him.

But it bothered Hedgehog. She didn’t eat berries. How would she live without food? 

What happened to hedgehogs in winter?

She saw birds flying south to warmer places. But she couldn’t fly.

She saw squirrels storing up nuts. So she tried storing up slugs and worms and beetles in her little home. But when she woke up the next evening, they had all crawled away and escaped!

The weather grew colder. She began to worry so much that she couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned until her little bed was no longer cosy.

So she went out and collected more leaves and made a warm pile against a log. It looked very snug.

But she was too tired to worry about winter now. ‘I’ll sleep on it’, said Hedgehog, yawning. ‘Maybe I’ll come up with a better idea tomorrow.’

So she burrowed into the middle and curled herself up to go to sleep.

And she fell deeper and deeper into the deepest sleep you can sleep. A special sleep some animals do called hibernation. Every once in a while she would wake up enough to turn over and go back to sleep again.

When she woke up and opened her eyes fully, it was Spring!

‘Oh!’ she said when she realised she had slept all through winter. ‘So that’s what happens to hedgehogs!’ And she smiled a sleepy smile.

She knew what to do next time winter came - no worries!