I’ve found a hedgehog in my garden what should I do?
Congratulations! Hedgehogs are becoming increasingly rare in the countryside & rely more & more on our gardens for food and a safe place to live. Ideally, you have a wildlife friendly garden with LOTS of worms, beetles, caterpillars, slugs and other minibeasts for the hedgehog to eat – those are its natural diet after all.
If you would like to supplement the food available, you can buy mealworms or special hedgehog food in most garden centres or you can offer dry cat/dog food (but not the fishy sort). NEVER put bread or milk out for any wildlife, especially not hedgehogs – it will make them ill.
Please make sure that you always have clean, shallow water bowls topped up with fresh water, especially if you are putting out dry food. Even better, why not have a pond with a gently sloping ‘beach’ or ramp in it so that all kinds of creatures can drink and bathe there.
How do I know if a hedgehog needs help?
If you’re worried about a hedgehog then contact your local welfare organisation for expert advice on how to help. Visit Help Wildlife for advice on sick and injured hedgehogs, or any other animal you may find. You can use their directory to find your nearest wildlife rescue centre.
- You should only handle a hedgehog if it is in obvious need of assistance. Signs that a hedgehog needs help include:
- obvious physical injuries such as a nasty cut or strained movement
- it is out a lot during the day
- caught in a net, drain, etc
- badly infested with fleas or parasites
- loss of spines
- calling in distress (It is normal for young hedgehogs to shout for their mums, they are not ill)
If you are unsure whether your hedgehog needs assistance, temporarily restrain the animal so that it cannot crawl away – gently placing an upturned box over it will do the trick. Then call your local wildlife rescue centre before touching it. Never try to rehabilitate a hedgehog yourself without guidance - this could cause harm to the hedgehog and limit its chances of survival. Information on local rescue centres can be found here.
If you plan to light a bonfire please check carefully to make sure there are no hedgehogs in among the twigs – a nice pile of sticks and leaves makes an ideal hedgehog home if you can leave it undisturbed in a quiet corner.
Before tidying an area of long grass with a strimmer or shears, please use a cane to disturb the area first and check carefully for wildlife. Hedgehogs will often take a snooze in long grass during good weather and can be badly injured before you have spotted them.
Slug pellets and rat poison kill hundreds of hogs a year. Recent research showed that two thirds of the dead hedgehogs examined showed they had rat poison in their stomachs. Putting it one of those little dispensing boxes does not stop hedgehogs or many other types of wildlife from reaching it. Please stop using ALL types of slug pellet - not only do the hedgehogs eat the poisoned slugs but other wildlife gets hold of the pellets and is poisoned too.
Please make sure all garden netting is stretched tight and properly anchored in place. Consider replacing netting with animal friendly wire mesh. It's so much easier to handle and it doesn't trap birds either. If you do find a wild animal trapped in netting, do not try to release it by cutting it free, this can cause further complications. Please take the hog and the netting to an expert who can check for injuries, starvation and dehydration.