Hedgehog rescue: when to intervene

Hedgehogs in Europe start their hibernation between November and January, sleeping through to spring. Hedgehogs build a hibernation nest or spend the winters in man-made hedgehog boxes, but some struggle to find a place to sleep when the cold sets in. Many animal shelters become inundated with rescued hedgehogs from gardens, but it can be difficult to tell if a hedgehog needs help or if it should be left alone.


When to leave alone

  • The hedgehog is in the nest
  • The hedgehog has built a nest in your shed or garage
  • Young hedgehogs are alone in the nest


Let sleeping hedgehogs lie and don’t remove young from the nest unless you are 100 per-cent sure that their mother is not returning. Do keep a close eye on the nest and if the babies are alone for more than a couple of hours and are calling for their mother, place the entire nest in a box and head straight for your local vet or wildlife centre.


When to intervene

  • The hedgehog is out during the day
  • The hedgehog is asleep away from its nest
  • The hedgehog is clearly wounded
  • Young hedgehogs have been orphaned


A hedgehog in distress needs to be taken inside and placed in a cardboard box. A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel is a prefect heat source (but will do more harm if it goes cold), and the hedgehog should be given a towel or fleece to hide under. But the box somewhere quiet and offer it some cat or dog food before phoning your local animal rescue centre.

If you do see a baby hedgehog alone or in trouble it’s always best to keep watch for a while before rescue, especially if the baby is in the nest. Orphaned hedgehogs need immediate care from a specialist.


DO NOT feed a hedgehog milk. Wet cat or dog food is perfectly fine, and should be offered to the hedgehog if your local animal centre is closed for the night.



Immerse yourself in the incredible lives of animals every month with World of Animals for only £3.99, or get a great deal by subscribing online or becoming a digital reader today.


15 cat facts that might surprise you


Image from flickr.com/photos/idhren