The Wildlife Garden Project shows you how to help hedgehogs in your garden. Hedgehogs are in decline in the UK, but this video shows you a few simple things you can do to help our prickly friends.
What to do if you find a hedgehog that may need rescuing:
A hedgehog seen out and about during daylight hours is in trouble and needs help. Don’t leave it – pick him up straightaway, pop him into a high sided box and bring him indoors. Fill a hot water bottle with warm water and wrap it in a towel. Place it underneath the hedgehog and cover him with another towel. Leave the box somewhere quiet away from children and pets and then ring your local Rescue Centre for advice. Please do not give the hedgehog anything to eat until you have sought advice, as this may interfere with any treatment it may need. Offer only water, and NEVER give a hedgehog milk to drink as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.
Advice on orphans:
If you should accidentally disturb a nest in your garden with baby hedgehogs in it, carefully replace the nesting material wearing gardening gloves so as not to leave your scent on it. When a nest has been disturbed the mother may abandon her babies, kill them or sometimes she will move them to another nest site. If you think the babies have indeed been abandoned or if they are in immediate danger, please ring your local Rescue Centre for advice. In the meantime leave the babies somewhere warm and quiet.
What to do should you find a hedgehog with light colouring:
African Pygmy hedgehogs are sadly being bred in this country for the pet trade and are being dumped in the wild by their owners once the novelty has worn off. These are exotic animals and they will not be able to survive in our climate. Their needs are totally different from our native hedgehogs. If you should find a hedgehog with unusually light colouration eg: white spines and fur – whether it’s day or night pick it up, pop it into a high sided box and then ring your local Rescue Centre for advice.
What a hedgehog nest looks like:
This is a typical example of a hedgehog nest. This one has been built underneath a large fern. It is mainly constructed of dry leaves and bits of twigs.
What looks like a pile of garden debris to us is ‘ home from home’ to a hedgehog, as he stays snug and dry underneath.
Hedgehogs and the real truth about slugs:
Many people assume that by having a hedgehog visit their garden or allotment it will automatically solve their slug / snail problem. We now know that this is simply not true – it is just another ‘Old Wives’ Tale’. Slugs and snails form less than 5% of a hedgehog’s natural diet. The rest comes from earthworms, caterpillars, beetles and other insects. The truth is that they will only eat slugs and snails when they are starving and there is nothing else for them to eat.
Slugs carry the intermediate stage of lungworm. Lungworms are deadly parasitic nematode worms that live in a hedgehog’s lungs and the hedgehog becomes infected after eating infected slugs. A hedgehog with lungworm will have severe breathing problems, will be underweight and also have secondary infections / pneumonia. Once the worms are well established, there is little that can be done to save the hedgehog and it will die a slow and agonising death as it struggles to breathe.
We have learned over time that lungworm is extremely prevalent amongst Autumn juveniles at exactly the time when there is little or no other natural food for them to eat in the wild – during the Autumn / Winter months. Lungworm accounts for a high percentage of hedgehog deaths and if not treated quickly the hedgehog will soon die.
There is another danger hedgehogs face when eating slugs, and that is when the slug has consumed deadly slug pellets. This can cause secondary poisoning when the slug is eaten by the hedgehog. PLEASE DO NOT USE SLUG PELLETS, USE AN ALTERNATIVE OPTION which is WILDLIFE FRIENDLY.
Some types of injuries we deal with. You may find some of these images upsetting.
The injuries we see inflicted by strimmers on hedgehogs are horrific. Most casualties do not survive and those that do suffer more pain than you can imagine. These injuries were caused by a careless gardener using a strimmer. By the time she was rescued, gangrene had already set in and the only option was euthanasia.
This is the result of a strimmer injury inflicted on a hedgehog who was pregnant at the time. Her injuries were so severe she did not survive, and neither did the three babies that she aborted. It only takes a few seconds to check long grass first before strimming. It might save a life – or in this particularly sad case, it would have saved four.
This is what happens when a hedgehog gets caught up in netting and is unable to escape. This was heart-breaking to see as she was still alive when we rescued her. Her injuries were so severe the only option was euthanasia.
A typical broken and infected leg.
This female hedgehog had a heavy tick burden and was severely anaemic and dehydrated. We pulled over 300 ticks off her.
This is ‘Tufty’ who was suffering from mites / ringworm. It took many weeks of treatment to restore his lost fur and spines.
This is what happens with carelessly discarded litter. The hedgehog puts his head inside but his spines prevent him from backing out. Hedgehogs have been known to suffocate or starve to death because of this.
This is a tiny two week old baby with a fractured back leg. She was so small that we had to improvise and make a splint out of cotton buds and sticky tape to immobilise her leg!
This hedgehog had a huge infected head wound.