How We Rescued a Hedgehog
We have had the joy of rescuing a hedgehog and we’d like you to know the ins and outs of it because we could have got it so wrong! Hedgehogs are endangered and could become extinct, so every hedgehog matters. As they are found in cities, towns and the countryside, anyone could encounter a sick, injured or dying hedgehog. They are declining in all these habitats at a rate faster than tigers!
Last Friday sunny afternoon, my husband found a hedgehog laying in the middle of the garden. He thought it odd and came inside to google, or rather Ecosia (the website which plants tries as your search) what to do.
What Should You Do If You Find A Hedgehog Which Needs Help?
He found some information – put a box over it, give it some water and offer food. We did that, but the hedgehog didn’t show any interest. Actually, the hedgehog was so ill that it didn’t want to eat of drink. We should have seen from what little interest it showed that it was beyond eating and drinking and it was in fact getting colder all the time.
What to do if your find a hedgehog on the lawn in the daytime?
We searched the internet again and found that the hedgehog was almost certainly gravely ill and dying. Hedgehogs are mainly nocturnal and they would only come out and sun bath on a lawn during the day if in an attempt to conserve body heat. So, something was amiss, and this hog needed professional help.
How Do You Transport a Sick or Injured Hedgehog?
With gloves, we placed the hedgehog in a large deep box and gave it a hot water bottle, also with space to get off the hot water bottle and I went through the options. Always remove the hot water bottle before it goes cold, otherwise it will make the hedgehog too cold! If you are transporting a mother and babies, put the mother in a separate box, because if she feels threatened, she might harm her babies.
Where Can You Take an Injured Hedgehog?
I called local vets some of whom will care for hedgehogs, but you need to call the RSPCA first and get a code which you give to the vet. It was not clear who would pay for the treatment or what level of care it would have received, where it would be rehomed if it survived etc. If you suspect the animal is injured it would need veterinary care.
Where Do You Take a Sick Hedgehog?
Ours had no apparent injuries, it was just very ill, so I then searched for a local hedgehog rehabilitation centre. I manged to find Mel, who has set up a hedgehog sanctuary at her home just a few miles away. These local centres are much better equipped to give an ill hedgehog the attention it needs. There was no more delay, I was told to bring the hedgehog straight over. As I later found out, many of the hedgehogs which are taken to the local vets are given emergency treatment and then passed on the local rescue centres!
This Hedgehog Needed Urgent Help
Mel took the hedgehog and turned it over it revealing several large ticks. She showed me how dehydrated it was by lifting the skin which stayed up in a mound and told me how cold it was. I left the hedgehog there in her care, expecting to never see it again and regretting that I hadn’t known about her earlier in the day.
On the Sunday, I gingerly called Mel to ask how the hedgehog was and to invite myself over again to bring a cash donation, some cat food and a gift to help with her rescue (more about that later). The hedgehog, a female was still alive!
Meeting our Rescued Hedgehog
Mel took me to meet the little hog and introduced me to the other 34 hogs in her care and explained what treatment she had given to our little lady: Warming up, subcutneous fluids, tick removal and a thorough parasite cleanse regime for heartworm, lungworm etc.
Support your Local Hedgehog Rescue Centres
I was glad I had brought some cash because the medicines and foods such as mealworms are expensive. Mel explained that she has figured out the correct dosage of these medicines which are designed for different animals and says that she now prepared information sheets for vets on how to dose hedgehogs with the medicines they have on hand. By the way tick treatments designed for dogs will kill a hedgehog, so it is not only the dose, but the choice of medicine which is important.
The hedgehog looked remarkably well and had her own cage with a pile of straw and shredded newspaper to hide under and Mel bought her out for a portrait photograph! The best news is that after her rehabilitation and after good weight gain, Mel will let me collect her and bring her back.
How to Look After a Hedgehog On Release
Once we get the hedgehog back, we have been told to put out food and water for 3 consecutive nights to find out whether the hedgehog needs this food source or whether they can find their own. A friend in the next village feed her hedgehog and they turn up at about 10.00pm each night. Mel is going to mark the hedgehog with paint so we can easily recognise it again and of course I will have my wildlife camera out to get glimpses of her through the night. I am hoping our hedgehog will be self-sufficient because we have some monster feral cats around here and foxes in the field behind us and I don’t want to encourage them into the garden with tasty offerings. We will check again that the hedgehog can easily enter the neighbours’ gardens and make sure that our pond, when the water returns will allow a hedgehog to scramble out if it does fall in.
There are many small hedgehog centres like this and the carers are so busy caring for the hedgehogs that they don’t have time to fund raise or often even publicise their sanctuary, so it is really important to donate to these centres and to find ways to raise money for them. Without adequate donations, these centres just can’t go on and these amazing creatures which have barely changed over thee last 15 million years could vanish from the wild.
What Did We Give to the Hedgehog Sanctuary?
Beside cash and cat food we took the sanctuary one of our clay water purifying amphoras. With so many hedgehogs coming into the rescue centres with dehydration. We thought it would make a great gift. This means Mel can fill the amphora with her tap water and leave it for 8 hours and the amphora will lower the levels of chloride, nitrates and heavy metals. It will make the water taste and smell natural and make it more appealing to hedgehogs. Due to the circulation inside the amphora, the water molecule cluster size is reduced – so instead of molecules of water sticking together in ‘clumps’, they are broken down into smaller cluster sizes, making the water better for rehydration purposes. The water is made more alkaline too which is healthier.
Given a choice of tap water or water from the clay amphora, every cat and dog we have tried it on prefers the taste of the amphora treated water. They would be useful for almost any animal help charity.
Be Prepared to Rescue a Hedgehog
It is important to identify the local rescue centres in your area so you can reach them quickly and share their details easily with neighbours and to support them in their work. Check community websites and ask around.
The leading hedgehog charity, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society But remember the small local rescue centres (even those too small to be registered as charities) need your donations too!
Info about how you can help hedgehogs in your neighbourhood
If you have a hedgehog rescue story, please share it below. 😀