How to recognise a sick hedgehog
Unwell hedgehogs may be:
- Unsteady on their feet
- Collapsed and unable to stand
- Cold to the touch
- Have mucous around their nose or mouth
- Out in the daytime
These hedgehogs need urgent attention regardless of the time of day or night and may be seen lying out in the open during the day attempting to warm themselves up. Hedgehogs never ‘sunbathe’ and any animal in this condition needs rescuing.
Injuries may include broken bones, burns, cuts and grazes which vary in their severity. If you see an injured hedgehog at any time (day or night) it will need rescuing. Injuries can become easily infected and are usually very painful for the animal.
All hedgehogs seen out in the day will need to be rescued, except expectant mothers who sometimes forage and nest build during daylight hours to prepare for the impending birth. These hedgehogs will be walking purposefully, often carrying mouthfuls of nesting material. There have also been cases where mothers have needed to move their babies urgently during the daytime (because they feel the current nest is not safe) and they may be seen carrying their babies to the new nest site. In both instances, watch from a distance and call your local rescue if you have any concerns. In all other cases, hedgehogs that are out and about during the day will need rescuing immediately.
Hedgehogs going into winter need to be around 650g in weight to survive hibernation. If you see a small hedgehog in the garden in late autumn, please catch it and contact your local hedgehog rescue for advice.
How to rescue a hedgehog
If you find an ill or injured hedgehog, you must act quickly.
You will need the following items:
- A high sided plastic or cardboard box/pet carrier lined with newspaper
- Gardening or disposable gloves
- A hot water bottle or heat pad
If you have found a hedgehog that needs help then gently place it into the box wearing gloves. Even unwell hedgehogs can be good at climbing so somewhere secure is necessary. Place a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel into the box or pet carrier if the hedgehog feels cold. Wrap the hedgehog in a blanket or towel to provide it with something to hide in. Make sure there is space in the box for the hedgehog to move away from the hot water bottle in case it gets too hot.
Bring the box indoors to keep it out of the cold and away from flies and call your nearest rescue. Please ensure that the hedgehog is safe before calling so that it does not wander off.
To find details of local rescues, please call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801. Your local vet should also be able to help. We do not accept rescued hedgehogs – please do not contact us about injured or ill animals as this simply delays getting them to someone who can offer them treatment.