This time of year you may see hedgehogs and be concerned if they need help and if so what to do. Time is of the essence – little hogs can die very quickly of hypothermia, so action is needed straight away.
Any hog under 600g will not make it through the winter – they are too small to hibernate, so will starve or freeze. Little ones, roughly the size of a tennis ball or just bigger are especially vulnerable. Here is what to do:
Put the hedgehog in a high sided box or small animal carrier
Give it a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel – if you don’t have a hot water bottle, then a plastic milk bottle or glass bottle filled with warm water is fine; if you don’t have an old towel, newspaper will do! Direct heat is essential to stop hypothermia – a warm room is not enough. Make sure there is space for it to get off the bottle if needed and keep the bottle warm – don’t let it go cold.
Offer a small amount of meaty (not fishy) cat or dog food and fresh water.
Keep the box somewhere warm and quiet – NOT a garage or cold shed.
Ring for help or take the hog to the nearest animal sanctuary for help. Vets are often not able to offer the care that little hogs need, so an animal sanctuary is much better.
If the hedgehog has breathing difficulties, many ticks, fly eggs looking like little white or yellow rice grains (in which case, don’t give them a hot water bottle) or wobbles when it walks, it is very sick indeed – tell the sanctuary this.
Ring us on 01603 598333 for local contacts or get in touch with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Helen Baczkowska is a Conservation Officer at NWT.