WHEN TO RESCUE AND WHEN TO LEAVE ALONE

You don't need to rescue every hedgehog but please don't ignore those that need help.

Feeding a sick or injured hedgehog can cause a number of problems. Please give a shallow dish of water then call for advice.

Where we refer to shock, we are talking about medical shock ie. loss of body fluids, not shock as in they had a nasty surprise.

Once you have determined the hedgehog needs rescuing please read our How to rescue page.

Rescue

The Hedgehog is out during the day
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, sleeping during the day and foraging for food late evening through to early morning. They only come out during the day if there is a problem. Any hedgehog found out during daylight should be taken to a carer, vet or wildlife hospital.
The Hedgehog is asleep away from or out of its nest
Hedgehogs sleep and hibernate in specially built nests. If you find one lying in the middle of a garden or path, assume they are ill and take them to an expert as soon as possible.
A single orphan (after surveillance)
Baby and juvenile hedgehogs live in family groups in nests. Tiny babies will only leave a nest if there is a problem. Young hedgehogs will make a very shrill, loud, call if they are in distress. It sounds like an indoor smoke alarm or a high pitched manic duck.

If you find one, please do not try to look after it yourself as babies die very quickly and need specialist feeds. If you can't get it to anyone immediately due to the time, check out our carer information page for what to do but please get the infant to an expert as soon as you possibly can.

Under NO circumstances try to feed them milk.
Traffic casualty
Hedgehogs are often hit by cars, and can suffer a variety of injuries, they must have medical assistance immediately. Take the animal to your nearest vet unless you know of a carer or wildlife centre within easy reach
A leg appears damaged or is dragging
Fractured legs are easily treated by the right people and this does not necessarily mean the nearest vet who may well amputate or euthanase. St Tiggywinkles are experts with broken legs, if you are able, get the hog to them as soon as you possibly can before infection sets in. Otherwise, call a local carer, wildlife hospital or vet.
Hedgehog is under 600 grams any time between late October and early May
Hedgehogs need at least 20% body fat to survive hibernation, any animal under this weight will need to be housed indoors for the whole of the Winter. We find that it's unlikely we can release in the South of England until early May. This obviously varies depending on location and weather conditions
Dragging both hind legs
This can indicate a spinal injury. Handle the hedgehog very carefully. If possible carefully slide a board or stiff piece of card underneath it and take to a wildlife hospital, carer or vet as soon as possible.
The Hedgehog has open wounds
These can become infected or fly blown and will not heal without assistance. Urgent attention is required as the animal will be suffering from shock
The Hedgehog is caught in netting. DO NOT RELEASE
Take the Hedgehog to a wildlife hospital, carer or vet immediately, complete with the netting. It must be cut out and will need to stay in hospital for at least seven days' observation, in case of further complications.
Any "apparent" orphan showing an injury
Any young hedgehog that has an injury, or is out during the day, should be taken to an expert for a check over

Under NO circumstances try to feed them milk.
The hedgehog appears dead
Please do not bury it until you are 100% sure it is dead and not sick or hibernating

Leave alone

If in doubt, rescue and contact an expert immediately. If there is no problem with the hedgehog it can be released where it was found and it will carry on as if nothing had happened. The only exception being a nest, either with or without mum. In this case call for advice before touching anything

The Hedgehog is in its nest
Hedgehogs sleep all day in their nests. Please do not disturb them.
The Hedgehog weighs over 600 grams and is not injured in winter
Leave it alone it will hibernate when it is ready. If you wish to help it, you can put out food and water each day as detailed on our Feeding page.
'Orphans' in the nest
Never disturb a nest of babies, the mother may abandon or kill them. Rescues will have to be artificially reared. They are far better off with their mother who can do a much better job than humans can.

Sometimes the nest has already been disturbed and mum has gone or been killed. If you think this might be the case; from a distance, and preferably down wind, keep a close eye on the nest to see if she returns. If there is no sign within a couple of hours and the babies are making peeping noises, wear gloves and place the entire nest in a cardboard box and get them to a carer, wildlife centre or vet immediately.

Do not try to rear them yourself. Babies are notoriously difficult to feed and toilet correctly and they need somebody who knows what they're doing to get them over the hump.

Under NO circumstances try to feed them milk.
The Hedgehog appears to have made a nest in your shed or garage
If it's not in any danger and it's not causing you any problems, then leave it where it is. Make sure it can get in and out by itself, look for holes or gaps. If it's been trapped then please supply a shallow dish of water then call a rescue for advice, do not feed.

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