Winter is a dangerous time for hedgehogs

Please help hedgehogs over winter

It is widely believed that at this time of year all hedgehogs will be in hibernation until
the spring. Sadly this is not the case. Hedgehogs hibernate based upon night time
temperature. If the temperature is not consistently below 5 degree then many
hedgehogs will not hibernate.

If hedgehogs don’t hibernate in freezing temperature or if there is snow on the
ground they will starve because they cannot get into the ground to find their natural
food supply of beetles, earthworms, caterpillars and insects.

If the temperature rises, any hedgehog in hibernation may decide to come out of
hibernation, and they will be very hungry and thirsty.
In our current climate hedgehogs often go in and out of hibernation, which uses up
lots of energy. Hedgehogs can lose up to a third of their body weight during hibernation.

How You Can Help

There are 2 main things you can do to keep hedgehogs alive at this time of year.

  1. Provide food and waterIf you know there is hedgehog activity in your area please put out some food. During winter we recommend putting out dry food, meat based cat biscuits or dry hedgehog food available from Tesco superstores or garden centres.
    Put a large bowl of food out each night,  if it isn’t eaten bring the food in first thing in the morning and then put it out again the following night.
    DO NOT LEAVE FOOD OUT DURING THE DAY.
    Continue doing this throughout winter to ensure that hedgehogs in your area survive the winter period. Hedgehogs can also drink up to a third of a litre of water at any one time so always leave a bowl of water next to the food. Many hogs die of dehydration.
  2.  

  3. Make sure there is access between gardens
    Hedgehogs need access between 12 – 15 medium sized gardens. Even if you have concrete gravel boards you can dig a 5” trench or tunnel underneath the gravel to allow access. If you do this behind a shrub or bush it won’t be visible but the hog will be able to get through. You can also make a 5” square hole in wooden fencing to allow the hedgehog access.

CRITICAL INFORMATION - PLEASE READ!!

Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures and if you see one during the day at this time of year it will be sick and requires specialist medical attention.
IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU DO NOT TRY AND CARE FOR THE HEDGEHOG YOURSELF. EVEN IF A HEDGEHOG LOOKS WELL IT IS MOST LIKELY VERY ILL WITH INTERNAL PARASITES. THE ONLY WAY OF KNOWING THIS IS BY CARRYING OUT AN ANALYSIS OF THE HEDGEHOG DROPPINGS USING A MICROSCOPE. THIS IS A VERY SKILLED TASK AND CAN ONLY BE CARRIED OUT BY SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD TRAINING TO DO SO.
In recent weeks we have had calls from people who have been caring for hedgehogs in their home and they call us because the hedgehog seems to have deteriorated. Hedgehogs should never be cared for in a busy/noisy domestic environment. This can increase stress and trigger off illness in a hedgehog. Often, by the time we see the hedgehog, it is sadly too late because the internal parasite infestation is too far advanced to treat and the hedgehog dies during treatment.

Please remember unless you have received specialist training the kindest thing you can do is to seek advice and guidance from someone who has had specialist training in hedgehog rehabilitation.
If we are full and cannot help you The Vale Wildlife Hospital near Tewkesbury is open 24 hours a day and the staff are experts in hedgehog care Tel: 01386 882288