Not every hedgehog needs rescuing....
but every rescue must be appropriate.
Please check When to rescue and when to leave
A love of animals on its own is not enough to help a hedgehog in trouble. If you find a hedgehog you should get in touch with a hedgehog rescue centre and/or a vet at once.
First off don't panic. Hopefully you now have the hedgehog somewhere safe, warm and quiet. Somewhere it can't escape from. If not, please go and get it.
Most medical situations now have a handy word to help you remember what to do and in what order, like F.A.S.T. for the stroke victims. We have one as well. It's G.B.H.C. Snappy huh?
- Call (for help)
- Phone or take the animal to your nearest rescue or vet immediately. If one place doesn't answer the phone, call another, time is of the essence.
- Any local vet should take the animal and treat it under their RCVS Code of Practice.
- The RSPCA. Phone them as a last resort if you have exhausted all other avenues.
- Phone your nearest rescue. We are in Thatcham, West Berkshire. We will happily take an animal if you can get it to us but there may be somebody closer. Please see the Find a rescue page
- Any local vet should take the animal, check it over and treat it under their RCVS Code of Practice.
- If all else fails and you have the room, and the confidence, you could look after the animal yourself. For advice visit the information pages on this site, the BHPS web site or The Hedgehog Forums. Don't panic about fleas, just have a read of our Myths and Legends page.
- A different colour -
- pale colouring
- all white
- completely white underbelly
- Very large ears
- Pink eyes
Grab - Handling a hedgehog
Hedgehogs have spines and they can be very sharp. If your animal is curled then you will need to wear some thick gardening gloves or get a couple of towels to lift it without getting spiked.
If the animal is uncurled you can slip your hand under its tummy and lift that way but be warned, it may then curl round your fingers which can be equally painful. Please try not to drop it.
Box - Emergency housing
Once you have your hog, place it in a deep repeat DEEP box or cat basket, something it can't escape from. It's usually an idea to put some newspaper down first to soak up any little accidents.
I repeat DEEP BOX! A shoe box, plastic tray, plant pot etc. is not enough to stop a hedgehog escaping. They are extremely strong and if they can reach the top of the container when stood on their hind legs they will get out of it without any problems. I've lost count of the number of finders who call back and tell us the hog escaped. If you only have a shallow box, put something over the top and weight it down, hogs are extremely strong and can push up a surprising amount of weight. Don't forget to punch some air holes in the box so they can breathe.
Heat - Give warmth
If the hog feels cold to the touch, provide heat. This can be in the form of a heat pad or a hot water bottle / leakproof drinks bottle filled with very hot but not boiling water. Wrap it in a towel and place it at the bottom of the box. Place the hog on it and cover both with a towel or fleece. Make sure there is room for the hog to get off the heat if it gets too warm.
If the animal has fly eggs on it (look like clumps of tiny grains of rice) heat will make them hatch into maggots. The animal must see a rescue fast or it will be eaten alive.
Please remember, especially if you have to keep the animal for any length of time before you can get it to a rescue, a hot water bottle will get cold fairly quickly. Once the water is cold it has the opposite effect to that intended and will leech the heat from the animal to warm the water.
Keep checking to make sure the bottle is hot and when it cools, refill it.
Call - for advice
What you do depends on the condition of the hog.
If the hedgehog is injured, lifeless or screaming:
URGENT intervention is required. Please do not hang around with this one, a few minutes can literally make the difference between life and death.
If the hedgehog is mobile and appears uninjured:
Most hedgehogs out during the day have a problem. Don't assume that because you can't see anything wrong that there isn't. Rescues and carers will check the hog over thoroughly and keep it for a while to monitor it. If there genuinely is nothing wrong and it's just been disturbed from its sleeping place, the animal will be released and carry on as if nothing happened.
Mother and babies:
Please transport the mother and babies in a separate container as she may get stressed and kill them. Pick up the mother first and get her secured in a box. Try not to touch the babies, pick them up with the entire nest if possible and place it in a separate box. Have a good check round for other babies especially if they are tiny. Get them to a rescue quickly, the babies will not survive for long without their mother.
Other reasons for rescue
We are now beginning to see exotic Hedgehogs, bred for the pet market, being abandoned or thrown out into the wild. These animals cannot survive on their own. If you see a hedgehog that is any combination of the following:
at any time of the day or night, please pick it up and take it to a rescue centre, not a vet/RSPCA who may not know what it is they're looking at. The only exception to that is if the animal is injured in any way in which case follow the guidelines above
The exotics are obviously different to somebody who regularly works with our wild species and they should have contacts with specialist carers.
If you want to see what these animals look like, please check out the video on the right hand side of this page.