Hedgehogs need our help to survive
This year we have a continuous stream of hedgehogs being admitted to the hospital. We are in no doubt that at least one hedgehog will be brought to us every day.The adults are mainly injured by garden strimmers, or curious cats, or covered in parasites. And, as it is the breeding season, there are lots of little hoglets.We have already had a few complete litters as well as some lone babies. Most of these had their nests disturbed by people while gardening, or clearing out sheds, and some sniffed out by dogs.
Sometimes worried members of the public call us after accidentally disturbing hedgehog nests. We advise them to give the mother a chance to attend but in most cases, once the babies have been disturbed, mum doesn’t come back.Then we have to step in and play mum to many hoglets and there will be many more to come. Currently, we have a litter of four and a couple of single hogs on milk feeds. These tiny babies still have their eyes closed but will open them very soon and then we can start to offer them more exciting feeds to tuck into, such as baby rice and milk, and rusk.
On the few sunny days that we have had we’ve received calls concerning baby hedgehogs that are out in the daylight with flies around them. They need to be taken to a vet, or brought to us, for immediate attention in case they have fly strike (the fly eggs on them will hatch into maggots). We have dealt with multiple fly stricken hogs in the last couple of months and thankfully, if they receive our help before the eggs hatch, we can remove the eggs and save them from a horrible fate.
Hedgehogs are one of the most common animals we get in but, with the population in rapid decline, getting these hogs back to the wild is particulary important.
If you would like to help the hedgehogs in your area, you can do this by:
- Keeping a wild corner for them as a safe place for them to nest and forage
- Accumulating materials - garden rubbish, leaves, brushwood, etc. suitable for hedgehog nests (hibernacula) and supplementing their natural diet of slugs, snails, beetles, worms, caterpillars and suchlike with some protein (e.g. meat based pet food, minced meat or crunchy hedgehog/cat biscuits), particularly in periods of unseasonable weather. A bowl of drinking water should also be available at several sites around the garden.
- Driving carefully at night - curling into a ball is no defence against a car
- Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets - there are plenty of natural alternatives
- Make sure they can get out of your pond with a small ramp or sloping side
- Remove any litter such as yogurt pots which hedgehogs can get stuck in, or elastic bands and beer can plastic rings that can cause nasty injuries as hedgehogs get entangled
For more information, please visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society's website.
For a printable factsheet with all you need to know about hedgehogs in the autumn / winter, and how to help them, please click here.