Hedgehogs are very welcome visitors for gardeners, as they can help to keep some garden pests like slugs, beetles and caterpillars under control. Sadly hedgehogs are in serious decline, and winter months can be especially difficult, but you can help them by supplementing their diet with high quality hedgehog food and fresh, clean, drinking water. We recommend putting water and hedgehog food, in separate, shallow, heavy bowls in a quiet sheltered spot just before dusk. Creating a hedgehog home, or leaving some wild areas in your garden can be beneficial too, both for hedgehogs to make their nests in and to encourage their natural foods.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal; if you see one in daylight at this time of year it means that they are not well and need help. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society recommends that it be seen by an experienced rehabilitator as soon as possible, and that you follow these steps: -
- To pick up a hedgehog, please either wear gardening gloves or use a folded towel to protect yourself from the spines
- Put the hedgehog in a high sided box with air holes, with an old towel or fleece in the bottom for the hedgehog to hide under
- Fill a hot water bottle and wrap it in a towel so it gives a nice gentle heat coming through. Put that in the bottom of the box with the hedgehog, making sure that the hedgehog has enough room to get off the bottle if it gets too warm.
- Make sure the hot water bottle is always kept warm (if allowed to go cold it will chill the hedgehog and do more harm than good)
- Put the box somewhere quiet
- Offer hedgehog food, or meaty cat or dog food and fresh water
- Call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society as soon as possible on 01584 890 801 for further advice and the numbers of local rehabilitators
(Please note that out of office hours there is an answerphone, if you have a hedgehog, please press option 1 and listen to the emergency numbers, these volunteers are not representatives of BHPS, but they will be able to give you advice and numbers of local contacts. Please note as volunteers they are sometimes busy and need to sleep, so if there is no immediate answer, please leave a message or try later.)
- In the meantime, keep the hedgehog safe indoors as described above, but have it seen by an experienced rehabilitator as soon as possible.
Let's do what we can to help keep our hedgehogs healthy, safe, and thriving in Britain.