The Hedgehog is one of Britain’s most popular and easily recognisable mammals. Although Hedgehog numbers are in serious decline, you can help them by providing clean water and nutritious food, also by leaving areas of your garden to grow wild and by planting bushes and shrubs where the Hedgehogs can take cover while snuffling for their natural foods.
There is a lot of information on the internet regarding the feeding of Hedgehogs. Unfortunately much of it is out-dated and some advice even dangerous. As a wildlife rescue centre, we see many cases where problems have arisen due to incorrect feeding by members of the public.
All Hedgehogs need are water and some meaty wet or dry cat/dog food. You may think of giving them mealworms or peanuts as a treat but you have no way of knowing how many other gardens these Hedgehogs have previously visited and how many people have left ‘a little treat’ the result of which could cause dangerous health issues.
Some of the problems certain foods cause are listed below
cause metabolic bone disease in Hedgehogs due to their high phosphorus levels.
also have high phosphorus levels and cause dental problems as well as becoming lodged in their mouths preventing them for being able to eat and drink properly.
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and milk is very dangerous and not only causes stomach upsets it can kill them.
Cause dental problems, high sugar levels, stomach upset.
AVOID USING SLUG PELLETS, POISONS OR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS IN THE GARDEN.
When to intervene to help a wild Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals. They may require assistance:
If seen out during the day.
If they are wobbly or struggling to walk at their normal pace
If they have fly strike (which looks like grains of rice on the animal’s skin )
If they are losing lots of spines creating bald areas or have dry, crusting skin.
If they are under 500g at the beginning of November
If they are very small and making a peeping noise (babies).
If you need to help a Hedgehog, pick it up using gardening gloves or a towel and place in a HIGH sided box with newspaper or a towel for it to hide under and call for advice or help straight away. If it’s during the night, call as soon as you can and follow the below advice.
It is extremely important that the Hedgehog be warm before providing it with food. If it is cold, put a wrapped hot water bottle to one side of the box and place the Hedgehog on top and cover a little with ripped newspaper or hay and keep in a warm room, not a shed or outbuilding as it needs ambient warmth throughout the night.
Once warm, you can put in a dish of water and some wet or dry cat or dog food. The final step is to keep it well away from pets, children and any noise or disturbance.
The three most important things for helping wildlife are heat, fluids and being left alone in peace and quiet.
If your local wildlife carer is too far away, you can contact the SSPCA in Scotland, RSPCA England or your local veterinary practice.
SSPCA - 0300 999 999
RSPCA - 0300 123 4999