Hibernation Station: Have you been to see the Hedgehog Haven at Belfast Zoo?
Belfast Zoo is home to two European hedgehogs that live in a special Hedgehog Haven and are looked after by our fantastic zookeepers.
European hedgehogs are a brilliant native species that we have here on our doorstep, but did you know that they hibernate through the winter months? Their hibernation takes place between the colder months of December to March when there aren’t as many tasty invertebrates around for them to eat.
When a hedgehog is ready to hibernate, it will build a nest called a hibernaculum, made from things like leaves and twigs. Hedgehogs often make nests in wood piles or under sheds, so be careful not to wake up any hedgehogs when moving anything around the garden during winter.
Winter is also a difficult time for other native species such as bees. The cold, wet and frosty weather will wipe out any flowers left which is food for these wonderful pollinators. This means they have to survive the harsh conditions another way.
Some bee species such as the Irish black honeybee will ‘overwinter’ in their hive, sticking together as a cluster for warmth. Other species, like the bumblebee, will do something similar to the hedgehog. The queen bumblebee will find loose soil and hide, hibernating until the following spring. Did you know Belfast Zoo has a colony of Irish black honeybees? In August 2017, a colony of 2,000 Irish black honeybees were brought to live at the site .
Make your very own Hedgehog Hibernation Station
Cut your paper plate in half and cut the edge of one side of the plates to create a smaller semi-circle.
Cut out two tree branch shapes of your choice. Once happy with your branch shapes, glue the shapes down to your card. You can choose different colours of card, be as creative as you like with this step!
Glue your dried leaves onto your tree branches to create the trees.
Using your cardboard and pens create your hedgehog. Start by cutting out the body shape and adding on layers to create their hair.
Add your leaves onto the semi-circle shape you cut out earlier.
Glue your semi-circle shape onto the card and add some cotton wool to create the snow. Adding the snow is optional, but you can choose any material you like to make your own snow.
Add your two hedgehogs you made earlier to their nest ready for hibernation!