How can you tell if a hedgehog needs help?
Hedgehogs are adorable and shy animals which awakens our compassionate instinct. However, interfering more than necessary can be harmful.
In autumn, these creatures go on the hunt for food and slowly start to build their nests. You shouldn’t be surprised if you come across several hedgehogs during the autumn months. However, their numbers have declined by 50% since the year 2000. This is why it is crucial to help hedgehogs when necessary.
There are several signs you can spot to know whether a hedgehog is in need of help.
If you find a hedgehog that looks injured, emaciated or ill, you should act straight away. The same goes for baby hedgehogs that have been left behind. Watch the nest for a while - if the mother hedgehog doesn’t come back after two hours, you should bring the hoglets to safety as soon as possible. Hoglets that are found outside of the nest also need your help. If you find a hedgehog active in winter, it is a sign that it hasn’t started hibernating and it needs your help. You can make their lives a little easier by following these 10 tips:
- Welcome hedgehogs into your garden
Create small burrows so that these creatures can get into your garden easily.
- Help them prepare for hibernation
Hedgehogs need nesting materials and a place to hide in order to prepare for hibernation. Leave some leaves, greenery or wood in a corner so that they can help themselves and build themselves a nest. You can also make little hedgehog houses or places to hide available.
- Put some food out
It is important to give hedgehogs extra food only in autumn, otherwise their hibernation can be delayed. When hedgehogs can’t find any more food at the end of autumn, they naturally fall into hibernation but this doesn’t happen when food can still be found. You can put out canned cat food, cooked poultry meat or scrambled eggs (without seasoning or oil).
- Make fresh water available
Leave fresh water out for the hedgehogs near the food. This is especially crucial during hot and dry summers. Hedgehogs should never have milk because they are naturally lactose intolerant and it can cause nasty digestion problems.
- Be particularly careful when gardening
Before you mow the lawn or rake the leaves, you should always check whether a hedgehog is nesting there. These creatures like to hide under piles of leaves, stacks of wood and in other similar places.
- Check carefully in air vents and other holes
Check holes and ditches as well as air vents regularly to see if a hedgehog has fallen in. When this happens, you can take the hedgehog out carefully with gloves on. As a prevention, small planks can be placed into a hole to allow hedgehogs to climb out on their own.
- Garden ponds and swimming pools should be made hedgehog-proof
Hedgehogs can easily drown in ponds and swimming pools. It is, therefore, important to take the necessary precautions. For example, you could fix wooden planks to the edge of the pond so that hedgehogs can safely get out of the water again.
- Avoid using chemicals in the garden
The main source of food for hedgehogs is insects. On the one hand, the use of insect repellent will take away a source of food and on the other hand, it can be fatal when consumed by hedgehogs. Try to avoid pesticides.
- Be careful when driving
As previously mentioned, hedgehogs are particularly active during the autumn months and so can very often be found on the roads. These creatures are active at night, so it is advisable to be particularly careful at dawn and dusk. If it isn’t possible to brake, try to drive so that the hedgehog goes under the car between the wheels. Usually, nothing would happen to the hedgehog in this case because the gap between the road and the car is big enough.
- Take hedgehogs in need of help to a vet or a rescue centre
If you find a malnourished or ill hedgehog, you should act quickly. First, you should take the hedgehog into your home and make sure it has food and is kept warm. If necessary, remove any visible parasites with tweezers, then take the hedgehog to the vet or a rescue centre as soon as possible.