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.

 

 

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Image from flickr.com/photos/idhren