Watch out, watch out, there’s a hedgehog about (if you’re lucky) !
We love hedgehogs here at Pet Supplies Sussex and we have been feeding them for several years now in our personal home garden. Look out for more on feeding stations in one of our other blogs (it has all you’d need to know!). In our home garden we have in fact three or four hedgehogs, on the last count, that live in the garden. We have Daphne and Miranda the rescue girls. Their Mum and possibly there Dad in the front garden. Daphne was rescued by myself last winter in January. She was out in the garden during the day, under the bird table in search of food. A definite indication that she was not doing well and likely under weight for that time of year!
It was suspected that Daphne was a late baby and weighed only 300grams. Much too small to survive winter. So I popped her in a box with a blanket and kept her warm. I called Hurst Hedgehog Haven and a lovely lady called Ann looked after her until late February. This helping hand meant Daphne was able to build up her necessary weight. Hurst Hedgehog Havens aim is always to return any received hedgehogs back to their local area of where they were found. This is beneficial to the hedgehog and helps them to further thrive once upto the necessary weight.
It is suggest that a hedgehog should weigh around 600 grams by early December in order to have enough body fat to survive hibernation. Hedgehogs much smaller than this will still try and hibernate, but usually they do not survive (which is very sad). So if you ever do come across a hedgehog who is looking like they are on the small size / under 500grams, they should be kept warm, safe and probably go to your closest wildlife hospital for overwintering. There are various supporting wildlife centres specifically helping various wildlife in your local area. You can simple search for one local to you online.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal and only come out at night. Generally, any hedgehog out during the day is probably in trouble and will need to be picked up and taken to a wildlife rescue centre. You can pick them up using gardening gloves and put them into a cardboard box, although they are good climbers, so you would need to ensure they cannot escape (you wouldn’t want to stumble across one who’s escaped after all).
However, please note that during the summer months female hedgehogs may come out in late afternoons to forage for nesting material and extra food for her young; she will be active and should appear bright and healthy. So leave well alone and let her get on with her business!
Whilst Daphne took a brief Holiday with Hurst Hedgehog Havens (being cared for and fed well). My husband dutifully set about making a hedgehog house. In anticipation of Daphne’s return. If possible it is best to release a hedgehog back into the garden or area it came from. If it’s safe to do so.
Daphne returned to a lovely new residence. Complete with dry hay and a predator proof entrance. She approved and has been in her house ever since. Her sister Miranda joined her later as she could not be released back to the garden she was found in. Which was only a few doors down. She is quite happy in house no 2.
They are able to come and go as they please. We have hedgehog size holes (4.5 inches minimum) in our fences and under our gate.
We leave food out every night and saucers of fresh water for them. We find glazed coated plant saucers are ideal for our hedgehogs. With many people leaving either cat food out, wet or dry food. There are specific foods designed to benefit hedgehogs specifically. The foods include all those tasty treats which are sure to see Hedgehogs being regular visits to your garden. They know when they are on to a good thing!
If you wish to further support our prickly garden friends you can even make a modest feeding station out of a variety of materials.