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Hedgehog Hints-December 2012

 

One sunny and cold winter afternoon, my phone rang. A lady had rescued a hedgehog stuck on an ice puddle. She’d found my number online through The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).    Hedgehog 

If ever a hedgehog is seen out during the day, always pick it up, bring it indoors, as exposure hypothermia is a vicious cycle at any time of year in any weather. Although covered in spines they are not the tough, resilient creatures that we all believe them to be, in fact their numbers are declining so rapidly that they are on the governments priority conservation list.

Once placed inside in a high sided container, items that can be used to warm hedgehogs are: old towels, blankets, covered hot water bottle / heat pad, by a radiator. A hypothermic hedgehog will more than likely be curled in a tight ball, will appear sleepy and may not be fazed by being picked up.

I collected ‘Pringle’ who was cold to touch, placed him on a heat pad and wrapped him in several towels. It took over two hours for him to uncurl and being the size of an orange I could tell he wasn’t very old. Ageing a hedgehog is very difficult. My fruit formula works well: anything less than a garden tomato is under 10 days old, a large satsuma to an orange is between 3- 6 weeks, mango to grapefruit is 8 – 12 weeks and a melon is six months plus. Interestingly for a hedgehog to survive hibernation, it needs to be a minimum of a large melon.

Not all hedgehogs hibernate although most will. Hedgehogs will wake mid hibernation for food so ensure your garden has an accessible ceramic water bowl and meat cat biscuit/ mealworms under some sort of waterproof cover. Then you will be helping these wonderful creatures survive this winter.

When the weather turns cold the hedgehog will seek a winter shelter. They have been found in upturned plant pots, garages, sheds, thick grass, log piles, washing up bowls, carrier/compost bags. They use mud, grass, leaves, hay, sticks to aid warmth and keep them dry.

I knew Pringle was warming when he opened his eyes and started to sniff the air. I placed some meat cat biscuit into the box and some water in a ceramic bowl. The one fact that most people tend to know about hedgehogs is to feed milk and bread, but this myth is sadly incorrect and can cause a hedgehog to have diarrhoea and pain. Never feed milk, bread, gravy, or fish. But feed kitten food (due to teeth size) using fruit formula up to grapefruit size, then cat or dog food (jelly or biscuit) grapefruit size or bigger. Hedgehogs can easily eat 100 grams of food a night roaming several gardens. Their staple food is beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, fallen bird seed, raisins, peanuts and eating slugs and snails as a last resort.

Pringle ate a varied diet over the course of several months, he reached large melon size, then I released him into a wild garden.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk

or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog