For the past couple of years we’ve taken in a hedgehog over winter. UK Hedgehogs are in steep decline, and we need to do as much as we can to help them. So we work with the local Hedgehog rescue when we can.
Last summer was warm and wet, and autumn was the same, resulting in a larger than usual number of late litters for the hedgehogs. Through October and November we took in 5 tiny hoglets. All under 200g and far too small to survive winter without help.
They were already in serious trouble when we got them. Each time we assessed, removed ticks, treated for worms, kept them warm and fed. But sometimes that just isn’t enough, and sadly we lost 3 of the 5. One had so many ticks he was too weak for us to help. Another came in too late, he was suffering from serious hypothermia and died within a few hours. A third developed cage stress, which is horrid to see. We try our best, but these are wild animals, and they don’t appreciate being caged. He died too. Hedgehog rescue, any wildlife rescue, is often like this.
So, we were down to 2. Although a little tricky to maintain, we got them healthy and stable. We name them as they come in, and the two survivors were Fidget, a female, and Prickle, a boy.
Prickle was tricky. He’s been up and down through the whole time he’s been with us. He hates company, doesn’t like being cleaned, and he’s had some worrying health issues. But, weighing in at over 1kg now, he’s doing ok and we’re looking to release him in the next few weeks.
Fidget was an easy B&B – feed, water, keep clean. Until she suddenly developed cage stress, stopped eating, and started losing weight. We did everything we could, but she wouldn’t settle. Around 2 weeks ago we took the decision that if we released her early she’d have a slim chance outside. It was far too cold, and there’s not much food about, but if we kept her indoors she would certainly die within a few days.
She’s been living happily in my back garden ever since. We put food out every night for her, and we see her foraging. It was a huge risk, but after consultation with the local Hedgehog rescue, we decided it was worth it to give her a chance.
We made her a special house, and I’ll share how that was made, another time.
Hedgehogs are starting to come out in some places now and would really benefit from a shallow dish of fresh water, and a bit of food. Cat food is best, poultry flavour, not fish.