Ziggle Piggle Pages

Hedgehog Rescue

What to do when you find a hedgehog

HedgehogIf you find a hedgehog out in the daylight then it is most likely to be in trouble – especially in the winter. Always ring a wildlife rescue for advice. Hedgehogs are faster runners than you may think and if you go looking for something to put them in or to make a phone call, they are unlikely to still be there when you get back. A high sided box, cat carrier (preferably with a plastic base), rabbit hutch or plastic box will do the trick but hedgehogs are also very good climbers – so don’t turn your back on them if the box doesn’t have a top on it! It’s always a good idea to weigh the hog if you can – kitchen scales will do the trick – as this is really important information that will greatly assist a wildlife rescue that you ring.

Always use gardening gloves or a towel to pick the hedgehog up and in the bottom of the box put a towel (a pale coloured one which will show up any blood is even better) and, if the hog is very cold or very small, put a hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel, underneath the towel lining the box/carrier. No matter how tempting it is, don’t put food or water in the bottom of the box because if the hog is in shock, it could actually harm them. If your hog is fretting you can put some hay, torn up strips of newspaper or even dry leaves in over the hog.

Never be tempted to try and keep a wild hedgehog yourself. First of all, it is illegal to keep a wild animal and, secondly, any hog that is out in the daytime is likely to need help. Hogs are incredibly resilent animals and although it may not appear to be the case, they are often very sick even without showing any obvious symptoms. Some hogs carry fleas but these are host specific meaning that they will not jump off and live in your furniture or be transferred to your dog or cat but will simply die away from the hog. A huge percentage of hogs carry ticks. Getting these nasty bloodsuckers off a hog is not as easy as it looks and unless you are experienced in removing them, it’s best to leave it to the experts – otherwise you may leave the body embedded in the hedgehog’s skin which is bad news! Some hogs can carry as many as 150 ticks, or even more, and each one needs to be removed. Over time ticks will weaken a hog and can even kill them.

Many people are reluctant to hand a hedgehog over to a wildlife rescue because they like the idea of having a hog in their garden. Many rescues are not just happy but actually want to hand the hog back to you once it is well again as it always good to release back into the wild at the location it was originally found. Please mention this when you take your hog in as many rescues can have over 100 hogs at a time and it may not always be easy to trace which hog you took in at a later date.

If you want to put food out for hogs that visit your garden the best thing is meaty dog or cat food and/or biscuits. NEVER give hedgehogs milk – it will give them upset stomachs and can kill them. Leave water out in your garden – in the summer ensure it is kept topped up and in the winter, break any ice in cold weather. Although most hedgehogs will hibernate in the winter, they may emerge in mild spells and in especially mild winters it is not uncommon for hedgehogs not to hibernate at all. Opinions differ as to the exact weight but, generally speaking, any hog under 600g will not hibernate successfully and if it tries to hibernate, it’s possible it will never wake up. If it is really tiny then cold temperatures will send it into a false type of hibernation and it will never wake again.

There are many potential hazards to hedgehogs. Netting, slug pellets, ponds and litter all pose a serious risk to hedgehogs. If you use netting in your gardens, please keep it well above the ground. Never use slug pellets. If you have a pond, put some stones in the pond against the edge. Hedgehogs can swim but they often drown if they are unable to get out of the pond.

Please, if you find a hedgehog that is concerning you, catch it, weigh it and ring a wildlife rescue. Our hedgehogs need help.

To find a rescue or carer in your area visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s website – www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk or phone them on 01584 890801.

Other rescues you can phone for advice or help

  • Vale Wildlife Rescue – Tewkesbury/Warwickshire/Worcestershire – 01386 882288
  • WRAS – Kent/East Sussex – 07815 078234
  • Folly Wildlife Rescue – Kent/Sussex border – 07957 949825
  • Tiggywinkles – 01844 292292 – www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk
  • Leighton Buzzard Hedgehog Rehabilitation – 01525 759916
  • Prickles Hedgehog Rescue – Somerset – 07806 744772
  • Wildlife Aid – Surrey – 09061 800132
  • Happy Hedgehog Rescue – Surrey – 01252 871478
  • Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue – 07890 973050
  • Hedgehog Bottom – Berkshire – 01635 826120
  • Help A Hedgehog – Gloucestershire – www.helpahedgehog.org