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Hedgehog Hints-August 2013

Harriet-hedgehog

During the months of August and September our wild hedgehogs are busy looking after their young hoglets and trying to eat extra food to start putting on reserves for winter.

Many hedgehogs at this time have a second litter of hoglets and it is often these that become the winter ‘rescues’. Hedgehogs have two litters a year, perhaps due to low survival rates. Having looked after baby hedgehogs myself I often wonder how any of them make it to adult hood at all with all the hazards around. When born they are around the size of a golf ball, spines in place which emerge two hours after birth, but eyes remain closed for the first eight- nine days.

‘Harriet’ was born in my shed; her mum was rescued from a busy road during broad day light and then gave birth a few days later. Harriet was one of three and sadly she was rejected by her mum. This was evident to see as the other two babies were constantly feeding, getting quite large, but every time Harriet went near her mum she got pushed away. So I took Harriet on, she was no larger than my thumb.

Harriet required a lot of care to get her safely through the early days, she was syringe fed and also drank from a bottle lid, she was kept warm with heat pads and several blankets.

She initially did well gaining weight, but then one morning she didn’t wake. Nature took over at that point and looking back it’s possible that her mum knew something was wrong which was why she was rejected and then concentrated on the two ‘healthier’ babies. Survival of the fittest?  I will never know.

As a hedgehog rehabilitator these situations are emotionally hard but sometimes nature does take over despite all the effort and work I put in.

To continue to help our wild hedgehogs, keep an area of your garden ‘wild’, and an opening in your fence so hedgehogs can roam through gardens. Place some dry cat food in a cat free area such as an upturned washing up bowl with 5x5inch entrance hole for the hedgehogs to gain access.

This way they stand a much better chance of finding more food to help their babies and preparing for winter.

If you come across a hedgehog during the day, pick it up and keep it warm with blankets, before getting help.

Hedgehog numbers are still declining, please let’s all work together to save these beautiful creatures.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more information or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog.