Rural Animal Welfare Resources
Empowering You to Respect and Care for Animals

Caring for Hedgehogs

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 11:48 -- penny

Hedgehogs

Unfortunately there are many animals in the wild that come to RAWR for a bit of R&R (rescue and rehab).  For some reason the public is very keen to "rescue" hedgehogs and rehome them on their property.  They are very useful creatures, but we may do them more harm than good.  The first question is "does this hedgehog need to be rescued"?

If you are not sure, contact somebody who would (really) know.

When & how to rescue a hedgehog that does need help

Generally speaking a hedgehog should only be taken away from its habitat if:

  • Unresponsive but not in nest - hedgehogs only hibernate in nests
  • Out during the day
  • Road traffic casualty or has obvious wounds
  • Injured baby hedgehog (often making high pitched piping sound)
  • Damaged limb/s or limb protruding when curled up
  • Baby hedgehog on its own, but only after lengthy observation from afar
  • Trapped or caught eg down a drain/in fencing.  Do NOT cut free and release without having it examined professionally - see instructions below.

How to capture and transport

  • Note exact location - for release after rehabilitation
  • Lay blanket over the casualty for warmth
  • If safe to do so, lift hedgehog to a safe place on a coat/towel
  • Gloves must be worn.  Hedgehogs carry many zoonoses
  • On the road protect it from traffic if SAFE and possible
  • Wedged in a tight spaceUse plyers to grasp as many spines at their base as possible.  Pull the hedgehog out of the situation using the grip on the spines
  • Entanglement capture: ie caught in fencing: DO NOT CUT FREE AND RELEASE.  Wounds may be more severe than they initially appear, and the hedgehog may be dehydrated or malnourished if trapped for some time.  Cut fencing/netting so the hedgehog can be rescued, along with any embedded fencing section
  • Call the veterinarian or transport the hedgehog to a qualified professional
  • Use a cardboard box or similar container with ventilation holes and newspaper/towel on the bottom.  It is best to use a deep box or close the lid to prevent escape, but don't forget ventilation
  • Once captured do not try to calm the animal by talking to it, do not handle the animal unnecessarily
  • Keep other domestic animals away/out of sight

Feed a recovering hedgehog special hedgehog food or wet cat food.  They cannot digest bread.  Milk gives them diarrhoea and salty foods like bacon make them sick.  Many hedgehogs die because of being fed the wrong diet.

Adapted from/sources:

www.irishwildlifematters.ie

www.thehedgehog.co.uk