FAQS - Hedgehogs

There's a hedgehog out in the garden during the day. I thought they were nocturnal?

They are – so a hedgehog out during the day is a sign there is almost certainly something wrong. If the hog is a healthy looking adult and is busy carrying grass and leaves to a dry space, then leave it alone – its nest building.

If it is asleep in the sun, staggering or walking in circles, it needs to get to a centre as soon as possible. Try and pick it up and put it in a cardboard box or pet carrier lined with newspaper or an old towel. If you haven’t got anything to put it in, ask a neighbour for help, or wrap the animal up in an old towel and put it into a shed or garage to save it wandering off while you make arrangements for its transportation to the nearest wildlife hospital.

I can hear young hedgehogs piping loudly in their nest. Are they ok?

Probably! Do not be tempted to handle the babies as the mother is likely to eat them if they are contaminated with human scent. Wait and see if the mother returns to the nest in a reasonable time. The babies have a penetrating cry but she may be a few gardens away and even hurrying back will still take some time. Often people interfere far too quickly because they think an animal has been abandoned, but this is rarely the case, and you should always be absolutely sure before getting involved in any way. If, after a few hours, the mother has still not returned, contact your local rescue centre who will tell you what to do next.

It's very late in the autumn and I have a nest of baby hedgehogs has just been born in my garden. Will they survive the winter?

A hedgehog needs to be 600g to be able to survive hibernation. In these cases, sadly, it is best to let nature take its course, but if the babies have been abandoned by their mother, it is possible for local experts to hand rear them. Contact your local centre to ask their advice.

There's a hedgehog in my garden making a terrible wheezing and coughing noise and its nose is streaming. What's wrong with it?

Hedgehogs are prone to lung worms and respiratory diseases and most centres will willingly examine a hog if someone is worried about it. Pick it up carefully, using stout gloves and place it in a stout box, lined with towels or newspapers to take to the centre once they have agreed to see it.

Lots of people feed hedgehogs with bread and milk, but I've heard this isn't good for them. What's the real story?

You are right – milk and bread is not a good or healthy diet for wildlife. The fact that your hedgehog laps up any bread and milk left out for it doesn’t mean it is a good thing to feed it, any more than sweets are good for us, no mater how much we like them!  Mealworms should also be avoided as they can cause metabolic bone disease.  Creating log piles, compost heaps and leaving piles of leaves is a good way of getting natural food sources for wildlife to feast on.

I have just noticed a hedgehog in my garden. Should I put food out for it, and if so, what?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, and so feed during the night. Creating log piles, compost heaps and leaving piles of leaves is a good way of getting natural food sources for wildlife to feast on. If you think you have an underweight juvenile or during periods of drought or cold weather then a plate of dog or cat food and a saucer of water is the best thing to offer.  Do not give hedgehogs milk, as they cannot digest it.

I have seen a hedgehog swimming in my pond, will it be OK?

Like many mammals, hedgehogs can swim if they have to, but it is not a natural activity for them.  Try and rescue the hedgehog using gloves as they can be very prickly. Once you have rescued the hedgehog it is sensible to provide a slope or ramp so that any future hogs can get out easily.

My dog found a hedgehog in our garden, and has attacked it. It is curled up, so I can’t see if it is injured. What should I do?

Please pick up the hog, wearing gloves to avoid prickles and place it in a ventilated box.  Please then bring it to your local wildlife rescue as soon as possible to be checked over.

A hedgehog has got caught up in netting in my garden

Please cut the netting free around the hog, and then bring it to your local wildlife rescue.  the hedgehog can them be anaesthetised so that it will unroll, and the the res of the netting can be removed and the hedgehog can be checked for wounds.

I have found a hedgehog inside my bonfire, it is still alive, but the fire has been burning for a while

Please bring the hedgehog to a wildlife rescue as soon as possible so it can be treated.

I have found an extremely large, round hedgehog

Hedgehogs can suffer from a condition called Ballooning, which causes them to bloat up to an unnatural size.  It is caused by air getting trapped under their skin, and can hinder the hedgehogs ability to rollup, and to move easily.  It is treatable, so please pick up the hedgehog, place it in a box and bring it to your local wildlife rescue.

I have found a hedgehog with lots of small grey balls attached to its spines

These are probably ticks, which need to be removed.  Take the hedgehog to your local wildlife rescue to have the ticks removed. A large number of ticks can mean there is another problem with the hedgehog.

I have found a hedgehog with lots of flies around it

The presence of flies, or their eggs/larvae (small yellow clusters of eggs/maggots) means that the hedgehog has an injury.  Please bring the hedgehog to your local wildlife rescue for treatment.

Don’t forget: Hedgehogs can sleep inside sheds, garages, bags of rubbish etc.  Please check before clearing out these areas that there are no sleeping hogs inside!