THE WILDLIFE HAVEN
RESCUE AND
REHABILITATION

CENTRE

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When to help a hedgehog;

If the hedgehog is out during the day (at any age)

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, sleeping during the day and foraging for food at night.  They will only come out during the day if there is a problem.  Any hedgehog found out during daylight must be taken to a wildlife rescue centre. The only exception to the rule are large female hedgehogs in the summer and autumn. Pregnant or nursing hogs may come out to find more food but generally you will not be able to catch them as they will be moving fast and obviously large and healthy. If you are unsure about the condition of a hedgehog, please ring your nearest rescue centre for advice.

If you see a wobbly "drunk-looking" hedgehog out either in the day or the night

Dehydration can cause hedgehogs to look "drunk" when they walk. If you see a hedgehog staggering, or wobbling around either in the day or night, pick it up, place it in a softly lined, secure box and call a wildlife rescue centre.


If the hedgehog is asleep away from its nest or "sunbathing"

Hedgehogs only sleep and hibernate in specially built nests; they do not usually sleep out in the open, and they do not sunbathe. If you find a hedgehog lying in the middle of a garden or path, pick them up immediately and put them in a softly lined, secure box. Hedgehogs are in danger of fly strike when lying out in the open (Fly strike occurs when flies land on the hedgehog, lay eggs, and the eggs hatch into maggots, which begin to eat the hedgehog alive). Fly eggs can look like tiny grains of rice, or grass seeds, and are often in clumps around the face or back end of the hedgehog. Do not wait to see if it gets up and moves on. Pick it up immediately and call a wildlife rescue ASAP. 


A single baby hedgehog out at night

Juvenile hedgehogs live in family groups in nests.  Tiny babies will only leave a nest if there is a problem.  Young hedgehogs may make a very loud, squeaking noise if they are in distress. Quietly watch the little hedgehog to see if it is alone, or if has just wandered off from it's family. If it appears to be distressed, or no other hedgehogs can be located, pick it up, place it in a softly lined, secure box and call a rescue centre for advice.


If the hedgehog has been hit by a car

Hedgehogs are often hit by cars, and can suffer a variety of injuries, they must have medical assistance immediately.


If a leg appears damaged

Injuries to the legs can present in different ways. The hedgehog may struggle to walk, or be unable to fully roll up. The hedgehog may drag a leg behind it as it walks. Injuries to legs can often be treated, including fractures. Pick the hedgehog up carefully, place it in a softly lined, secure box and contact your local wildlife rescue as soon as possible. 


If the hedgehog has open wounds

These can become infected and will not heal without assistance. In the summer months it is extremely common for hedgehogs to suffer from fly strike. An injury places the hedgehog in even more danger of this.  (Fly strike occurs when flies land on the hedgehog, lay eggs, and the eggs hatch into maggots, which begin to eat the hedgehog alive). Fly eggs can look like tiny grains of rice, or grass seeds, and are often in clumps around the face or back end of the hedgehog. If you find an injured hedgehog it is important the it receives care as soon as possible. Call your nearest rescue centre ASAP.

If you hear continuous squeaking noises coming from a possible nest site.

Something may have happened to the mother and the babies are calling for food. Hedgehogs often nest under sheds, in log piles, under decking, and in compost heaps. Ring your nearest wildlife rescue to come and assess the situation.


If it's dragging both hind legs


This can indicate a spinal injury. Pick the hedgehog up very carefully, place it in a softly lined, secure box, and call a wildlife rescue as soon as possible.


If the hedgehog is caught in netting. Do not release.

If you find a hedgehog tangled in netting or wire, it is important not to just untangle and release it. The injuries caused by netting/wire can take a number of days to fully present themselves. It's important the hedgehog stays under observation for at least a week at a wildlife rescue centre before being re-released. Pick the hedgehog up, with the netting/wire attached, place it in a softly lined, secure box, and call your nearest wildlife rescue as soon as possible.


If the hedgehog is trapped (in a pond, in a cattle grid, in a drain, etc.)


Hedgehogs very regularly become trapped or stuck in awkward and potentially lethal environments. If you find a hedgehog in a pond, try and lift it out immediately. Although hedgehogs can swim, if they cannot find a way to climb out of the pond, they will get tired and drown. Do not re-release the hedgehog without first ringing a wildlife rescue, as it may need to be properly assessed. If you find the hedgehog trapped in a more difficult location, either ring a wildlife rescue for help, or safely try and extract it yourself. Again, do not re-release until speaking to a rescue centre. Hedgehogs can lose weight and become very dehydrated when trapped in places like cattle grids. It's important they are properly assessed. If you find a hedgehog stuck in an item like a can, where extraction may injure the hedgehog, do not try and remove it yourself, but call a wildlife rescue immediately. 


If the hedgehog has been found in a lit bonfire


Hedgehogs can commonly be injured by bonfires, both by the fire, and the smoke. If you find a hedgehog in a bonfire that is lit, or in the leftovers of a recently lit bonfire, it is important that you pick the hedgehog up, place it in a softly lined, secure box and call a rescue centre as soon as possible. Hedgehogs that have been burned may have a charred, or blackened look, and hedgehogs that have experienced smoke inhalation may cough, or have difficulty breathing.


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Hedgehogs should be handled with thick gloves, their spines can hurt and they may bite. Once you have established that a hedgehog is in need of assistance, pick it up and put it in a cardboard box or pet carrier with newspaper and a towel. You could also add a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, (or any plastic bottle filled with warm water), to the box; as direct warmth will help an animal that is suffering from shock, or hypothermia. Hedgehogs can climb very well; make sure any box they are placed in either has very high sides, or has a secure door, like a cat carrier.


The hedgehog should then be taken to a wildlife rescue centre as soon as possible. Please call ahead before setting off. Most rescue centres are run from people's own homes; they may not be available immediately, and they may need to time to prepare a suitable cage.


Remember! Hot weather doesn't only affect humans. Hedgehogs really suffer in the heat as the ground dries out and food is scarce. Please help hedgehogs in your garden by leaving out a dish of clean water and some cat or dog food at night.

Hedgehog numbers are rapidly declining. Help the hogs in your garden by leaving hedges, wild flowers and plants to grow. Stack logs to attract insects and do not use slug pellets. Always check for hedgehogs in long grass before strimming and in bonfires before burning. If your garden is fenced, ensure you cut a small hole in the fences on either side, so that hedgehogs may pass through as they forage.