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Springtime and wildlife babies

Spring is a time of new beginnings, when many plants and animals reawaken after slumbering through winter. There are lots of signs of spring, and one of the most recognisable is the arrival of new baby animals. From lambs and chicks to hoglets and badger cubs, these beautiful new animals will soon be welcomed into the world – so lets do all we can to ensure they have a safe environment to survive and thrive in.

If you’re wondering when you might start to be able to look out and spot new baby animals, we’ve collected some information below.

However, amazing though it is to see one, it’s really important that you don’t disturb new animals or their parents at all. Don’t go near nests, don’t interfere with burrows, and if you see what you think might be an baby animal in distress and away from it’s parents, check with the RSPCA first because it could just be that the parents are away finding food. Don’t ever touch or pick one up!

If you want to help, there are lots of other ways, like ensuring there are hiding and nesting places in your garden that provides plenty of safe spots for wildlife to thrive, and encouraging more wildlife in your neighbourhood.

Badger cubs

While badger cubs are born around February time, you’re unlikely to see them until April when they start to appear above ground. But if you do want to see a badger cub, then May is the best time as they start to accompany adults out on food foraging missions.

But be very careful if you spot a mother badger out with her cubs, and keep your distance! The mothers are very protective and will attack readily if they perceive you as a threat.

Hoglets (baby hedgehogs)

European hedgehog standing on the ground
European hedgehog. Copyright: Gibe, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Hoglet is the adorable name given to a baby hedgehog, and while they can appear early as if the weather and winter has been mild, you usually start to find baby hedgehogs around June.

Mother hedgehogs will usually have a litter of four or five, but usually only two or three survive. The first time you might spot a hoglet is when they are three or four weeks old,  as they start to accompany their mother out when foraging for food.

Frog and toadspawn

A timelapse photo collage showing frogspawn development
Frogspawn development, copyright Mnolf, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, it’s not technically a baby animal but frogspawn and toadspawn are of the most famous signs of spring, and there’s something quite magical about finding some in a pond or puddle or stream. If you do. It’s well worth revisiting regularly to see how things progress; can you spot when the spawn gets bigger, can you record when they start to hatch, and how about charting the development of the tadpoles?

Toads in particular are quite amazing when it comes to breeding and spawning; they tend to return to the same bodies of water that they came from, which means generation after generation go back to the same spot, for years and years and years! It’s incredible! But as a result they can face special risks, because roads might have been built in their way over time. You can help by signing up to help with your local toad crossing – yes, that’s really a thing!

Blackbirds

Two blackbird chicks in a next with their beaks open
Baby blackbirds copyright: Brian Snelson from Hockley, Essex, England, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

These iconic and beautiful birds tend to nest in March, though with changes to our climate and warmer winter months, some have been recorded as attempting to nest as early as January!

Blackbirds can build their nests fairly low to the ground, often in trees, shrubs, thick hedges and even sometimes on the ground. It’s a dish-like shape, and most blackbird pairs will have between three and five young.

Red Fox kits

Two red fox kits stand next to each other
Copyright: Jenifer Cross/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Baby foxes are called kits, and are usually born underground in a fox den in March. Foxes have their dens, which are also called ‘earths’, anywhere they can dig into somewhere safe. In the wild, this might be a slope or under a tree. But foxes also thrive in an urban environment where they’ll live, make dens and have kits too, so even if you live in a city you might spot some fox kits. City or urban foxes often make their dens under hedges or garden sheds.

The fox kits will stay safe and sound underground in their den for about a month, and will start to emerge in April where they will start to play together at the entrance to the den – that way, they can make a dash for safety if danger is near. Lots of wildlife charities and gardens will set up fox webcams if they have a resident fox family, so the best way to see one if you haven’t got a den nearby is do a quick Google search for a live feed.

How to watch baby wildlife safely

If you’re lucky enough to have a nest or burrow or set near you, the best thing to do is set up a camera trap or webcam. That means you can keep a constant watchful eye on baby wildlife without causing them any harm or distress. There are lots of cheap set-ups available now that are easy to install, and it’s brilliant for learning more about wildlife in your area.

If you don’t have access yourself, don’t worry because lots of organisations like wildlife trusts and national parks and other places will often have webcams set up. For example, you the RSPB sometimes has webcams set up observing the nests of birds of prey, and the Wildlife Garden at the Natural History Museum has set up webcams to monitor the fox family that lives under the garden shed.

Related links

If you enjoyed this, then check out some of our other articles and activities that you’ll love too!

Here’s how to spot the animal signs of spring

Spring flower spotting

6 ways to help wildlife in spring

Brilliant citizen science projects you can get involved in this spring

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