Probably the most loved of all UK mammals, their low stature and tendency to freeze and roll up in the face of danger leave them incredibly vulnerable to harm from man made hazards such as cars and strimmers.
When to Help
|A hedgehog out during the day|
|Hedgehogs are strictly nocturnal so one out in daylight is likely to be in trouble.|
|In autumn and winter you should pick up and weigh ANY hedgehog you see.|
|If it weighs less than 600g it won’t survive hibernation and will need looking after over the winter.|
|A hedgehog with an obvious wound or injury|
|Their lifestyle makes hedgehogs extremely prone to infection or fly strike if injured. If you see maggots or fly eggs on an injured hog it is essential you seek urgent help in this instance.|
|A hedgehog with a high number of fleas|
|The hedgehog’s reputation as being full of fleas is unjustified really. All wild animals have some fleas but if the hedgehog is overrun this is usually a sign of illness.|
|A hedgehog losing a lot of spines|
|Hedgehogs commonly suffer from skin problems. If the hedgehog is losing spines it will need treatment as it will be vulnerable to predators and secondary infections.|
|A hedgehog stuck in a drain or caught up in garden netting.|
|Urgent help should be sought for trapped hogs. A hog trapped in netting will need treatment and should not be released without treatment|
|A hedgehog caught by a dog|
|It can be hard to see wounds between the spines. It is best to get the hedgehog checked over just in case.|
|A hedgehog hit by a car|
|The hedgehog will need to be checked for injuries as these can be hard to spot|
|A single abandoned baby.|
|Observe initially but avoid touching. Intervene if Mum does not return after several hours. Any baby in obvious danger should be picked up immediately.|
|An apparently abandoned nest of babies.|
|Mother hedgehogs often sleep away from their young. Observe for a few hours and seek further advice if Mum does not return.|
|A fat, healthy hog out after dark.|
|You may feel the hedgehog is unwelcome or out of place in an urban environment but if it’s healthy it’s doing ok. Trying to relocate the hog could prove fatal.|
Capture, Containment and Care
For advice concerning baby hedgehogs please see our baby mammals page.
If you need to pick up an adult hedgehog it is best to do so using leather gardening gloves or a thick towel to protect you from their spines.
Place the hedgie in a cardboard box or pet carrier. If using a cardboard box, be sure to provide air holes and be aware that hedgehogs are surprisingly good climbers so you’ll need a box with either high sides or a lid. A towel on the bottom will make him more comfortable. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away.
If the hedgehog has or is vulnerable to fly strike it is extremely important that you get help quickly. Fly strike refers to when flies lay their eggs on a sick or injured animal. The eggs hatch into maggots which then eat away at the flesh of the still living creature. Hedgehogs are at risk of fly strike if they are collapsed or have open wounds. Maggots or eggs are commonly found in their ears, mouth, round their anus and in wounds. If you see maggots, eggs (clusters of what look like tiny grains of rice), or a wound or the hedgehog has an unpleasant smell about it, please act immediately as a hedgehog with fly strike will be suffering terribly.
It is not generally necessary or advisable to provide food and water if you are getting the hedgehog to a rescue quickly. Never offer a hedgehog cow’s milk or alcohol. If your guest is a juvenile picked up simply because it is underweight and appears otherwise well, you can give some meat flavoured cat food. Around 100g of food will suffice (many hedgehogs will eat more given the chance but gorging could be dangerous so don’t give too much!). You can offer water though be prepared for hedgie tipping it over and making a mess very quickly!
If the hedgehog is injured or collapsed supplementary heat may be helpful. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the hedgehog can get away from the heat if it wants to.
NB – this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours. If you are not able to get the hedgehog to a wildlife rescue within this time, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period.