If you spot a hedgehog in the spring, summer or early autumn and it looks healthy then the best thing you can do is leave it alone. Hedgehogs are wild animals and so can get very easily stressed by human contact. However, if you find a hedgehog staggering around during the day or in winter then it might be in trouble.
Sick and injured hedgehogs
Sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs are very susceptible to hypothermia. Staggering is a sign of hypothermia and so is ‘sunbathing’ as they spread themselves out in the sun in an attempt to get some heat into their bodies. If you find a hedgehog in this state they need your help quickly. Take them inside in a box and place a well-wrapped hot water bottle underneath them. Fill the bottle with hot tap water (not boiling), you should be able to hold your hand comfortably on the bottle when wrapped. It's REALLY important that the bottle is not allowed to go cold, it will do more harm than good, so it needs changing often. Once you have the hedgehog settled, call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890 801 or your local carer for further advice.
Wildlife veterinarians on the Garden Wildlife Health project are studying the causes of hedgehog disease in the wild. Please report sightings of sick or dead hedgehogs through the online reporting system here.
At around 4 weeks old, baby hedgehogs (hoglets) start to venture out of the nest with their mothers. Occasionally one may come out of the nest in the day but will be busy searching for food and will then return to the nest. However, some hoglets, even newborns, whose mother has been killed will venture out of the nest in search of her. You are likely to spot these out in the day, they may be squeaking and there may be flies around them. These hoglets need rescuing as soon as possible because if the hoglets are left too long they may get maggots on them which will eat them alive.
The hoglets should be handled using gloves (so your smell does not get on them) and placed on a covered hot water bottle and then covered with a small towel. If you only find one do have a look for more. Once settled, call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society or a local hedgehog carer for advice – click here for a list.