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Help With Healthy Juvenile in Town…

Home Forums Carers / rescuing a hedgehog Help With Healthy Juvenile in Town…

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    I popped out to the shops at about 10pm this evening and found a juvenile in the road in the small coastal town near where I live. Because it was a bit small and it seemed to be in a fairly perilous situation, I picked it up and drove home with it.

    I have weighed it and it comes in at 400g precisely, and given that night time temperatures are starting to reach 0 and there has been some ground frost over the last few mornings, I am at a bit of a loss at what to do. To complicate matters, I have looked at the website for my local rescue centre and they are not admitting at present.

    From what I can see, the hog looks fairly healthy, it has eaten a little of the dry (venison based) dog food that I put in with it and I think it may have had a couple of dried mealworms that I have for garden birds too.

    It is currently in the house, on a landing in a 30cm sq cardboard box with a towel and a bowl of water and a bit of food, and i have scrunched up about 10 pages of newspaper and put those over the top of it.

    I am obviously out of my depth, I have no idea how much food a juvenile preparing for hibernation needs to eat, what else to supplement with (as I assume it needs a fairly high fat diet at this time of year/stage of development) and have no real idea where to house it and what in.

    I’m going to see if I can speak to someone at the rescue centre, but in the mean time I would appreciate any advice.



    Good evening teepee, you seem to have done all the right things, it’s got food and water, and its in a warm environment.
    Dont give it any more mealworms, a big no, no..a mistake many of us have made ,
    Keep, it warm and safe, kitten/puppy food and water and you can’t go wrong.


    Thanks Coley,

    Short term, I think I can cope. I’ll not offer any more dried meal worms.

    Oh, and I probably should have mentioned, I am in the North East of England… and it feels like it tonight (Brrr!).


    Hi Teebee,
    I am not an expert.
    Firstly is your landing a busy area? It would be better to keep the little one in a quieter place.
    I would definitely speak to rescue centre if you can get hold of them. They may not have room but they hopefully will give you good advice.

    Also speak to BHPS on 01584 890801 who may be able to give you the number of hedgehog carers in your area.
    Let us know how you get on


    Whey up Teebee, I’m in the NE also, unfortunately our local rescue centre (longframlington) is full and not returning calls.
    I’m also caring for a juvenile, one thing thing I’ve learned, whatever box or other enclosure you are keeping the hog in it needs to be at least 12 inches deep, they are all Harry/Harriet Houdini’s.


    Thanks for the messages Simbo/Coley,

    – I’ve spoken with the BHPS and they say at 400g, if he/she seems bright alert and healthy that I should release it, so I’ll probably do that tonight. The landing is a bit of a high traffic area, so I put the box in my study last night. It is still here and I can now hear young grasshopper eating the food I put in for it this morning, so I can’t imagine it is too uncomfortable with its environment.

    Currently on a diet of dried dog food and had a little Date and a few crushed peanuts last night. Also some dried meal worm, which I understand is not ideal, so have withdawn them.

    – Yes, I saw last night the NHRT were closed, but was hoping for some advice from them this morning. Unfortunately, their answerphone says look at the website for emergency advice, then the website says call them on the phone (after giving some cursory emergency advice).

    I live very close to Longfram, and once took a Juvenile to them a number of years ago, which they took in. I found the youngster wandering through Amble town centre last night, probably looking for food, and it was mainly the locale that made me pick it up and its size that made me think I should hang on to it.

    My box is only about 10″ and it isn’t sufficient. Watched the hog climb to the top and peer out last night, at which point I put a whicker basket roof on. I have covered this partially with a dog duvet, in an attempt to dampen down the sound. Seems happy enough, and unless anyone has serious reservations, I am of a mind to release it tonight in the alotment, which is about 1/2km from where I found it.




    Hi Tony-
    Gosh, this is tricky. I wouldn’t have thought 400gms was big enough for it to survive unless there was someone supplementary feeding but if that is what BHPS say…… Probably best to give just straight cat/ dog food until you release. This is the most nutritious for hedgehogs and your little one needs every gram she/he can get for any chance of survival! Is there anyway you could keep for another day or so to see if it puts on some weight?
    Anyone out there got some thoughts on this situation?


    Hi Simbo,

    I’ve had the same thoughts. I have transferred the little one to a slightly larger box, topped up the dog food and added some chopped peanuts (best food I have with decent fat content). I made the decision earlier that, if the hoglet continued eating well that I would try and fatten it up for a few days before releasing it, and if it wasn’t eating (either through fear/trauma or the fact that it didn’t like the menu), it would stand a better chance fending for itself.

    I have just been and checked up, as I guess now would be about when it would begin its evening foray for food, and I can hear it tucking into the food that I have left for it, so I think I’ll continue with my efforts for a little while longer, albeit with some trepidation.

    Other than emergency handling, I am struggling to find good information that cover diets and best practice, at least from a single authoritative source. Synthesis of information from different websites is very time consuming and not always productive. There is a lot of contradiction out there, including the advice about whether or not to release a 400g hoglet in mid November. The fact that there is contradiction from within the BHPS is both confusing and frustrating.

    So, if anyone is able, could you please answer the following?

    Is it OK to continue supplementing the dog food with peanuts to add fat?
    Would it be OK to supplement with some high sugar fruit too (I have plenty of dates, I could probably get some raisins or sultanas too), to boost calorie intake?
    Should I be careful not to get the hoglet too accustomed to warmth, as I imagine that this may have a negative/shock effect when I do release it into the cold?

    Anything else that anyone can add is very welcome.




    And adding to the above:

    How do I know if the hoglet is eating enough food?
    And related, how much weight would I hope to see it gain each day (as an average)?


    Hi tony-
    I am hoping Nic will see your plea. She is a font of all knowledge.
    In the meantime it’s a no to peanuts, dates. Just straight meaty flavoured cat/kitten/dog puppy food in jelly or kibble (kitten or puppy for a little HH)
    Nuts can stick in a hedgehog throat and there is science involved about the calcium/phosphorus ratio this applies to mealworms too. It can cause brittle bones.
    Sugary fruits also a no no. Everything I have read or have been advised from rescues is just the pet food.
    If the hog keeps eating just fill the food bowl. They do stop eating when full.
    I don’t know about average weight gain.
    Not such a nice job but your little one will need his box cleaned and fresh paper/ towel put in. Lots of shredded newspaper so he can get underneath. Use gloves when handling.
    I would put a light on in the room for a bit during the day so that his biorhythms stay as normal as possible.
    With the warmth situation- not 100%sure about this- but I would probably reduce the heat in the room gradually until it is off (over a couple of days)- Do you have a garage or shed?
    Sorry I can not give you definitive answers- I am just going to see if I can find a recent post from Nic about this.
    We can only do our best to help them and it’s really kind of you to be making such an effort.


    while I remember lots of clean water too.


    Hi Tony-
    I know the following doesn’t all apply to you but Nic posted it about a 240grm hog. Hope it helps a bit.

    If you need to keep the hoglet over-night, which you probably will need to now, I normally keep any hogs which I need to keep in overnight in an unheated kitchen. (but still reasonably warm compared to a garage). It might be a bit cold in the garage – I understand it’s going to be pretty cold tonight. I would put a newspaper in the bottom of any box, as they nearly always spill the water. If you use a hot water bottle make sure it isn’t too hot and make sure the hoglet has room to get away from it if it gets too hot. I don’t normally use one if the hoglets are inside a reasonably warm room and there is plenty of bedding they can snuggle into.

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    Hi teebee

    Re. the feeding. It’s best to stick to cat/dog/kitten/puppy food or proper hedgehog food. Give all the rest a miss. Nuts are not good and fruit is not a natural diet. The hogs natural diet is high in protein which they convert in to the particular types of fat they need for hibernation, so feeding fat is not necessary. Mealworms a definite no. If the hog eats all the food you give it, then offer it some more. If remaining in captivity, if all is gone one night, give it a bit more the next. (hopefully it will not need to be in captivity for very long)

    It’s a bit worrying that you found the little one out in the daylight, and ideally would be good to get it checked over, but if you don’t have the opportunity, that can’t be helped. It may just have been very hungry or thirsty. Very important that you offer water all the time.

    The advice about weights they can survive hibernation is a bit variable, because it depends a bit on weather conditions in particular areas, whether you are supplementary feeding, etc. But it’s really more the timing which is variable rather than the actual weight. The main thing is that the recommended minimum weight to survive hibernation is 450g late Autumn to Winter, but 600g for a hog which has been long term in captivity (because a hog which is released after a fairly long spell in captivity is likely to lose some weight on release). These are generalisations, to a degree – some hogs may survive below those weights.

    If all the over-winterers are full, I would be inclined to let the hog go (they put on weight very quickly if supplementary fed and it is quite near the minimum weight). But continue providing food and water for it. Ideally it should be released back where it came from, so if you know anyone in that area, you might be able to persuade them to continue feeding and providing water for the hoglet. Hogs learn to know their own areas very well and it may already have built or be in the process of building a hibernaculum. It will do much better in it’s home territory. If you release it where you are it may not stay there.

    If you need to keep it for longer, I agree, I would try to keep it in a comparatively cool place, i.e. not a centrally heated room, if possible.

    If you are still unsure what to do. You might try ringing BHPS again in the morning, when the staff will be there.

    p.s. crossed with simbo65’s post. Sorry for the repetition.
    p.p.s. Not the fount of all knowledge – but do my best!


    OK thanks Nic, Simbo, I think you have made my mind up for me.

    While the hog has been eating some dog food (it hasn’t eaten many nuts and the couple of pieces of date I put in earlier are untouced), I don’t think it is eating enough to be gaining the weight it needs for hibernation, so I am going to wait until later tonight and pop it under the nearest place of relative safety that I can find near to where I found it.

    Although well intentioned, I do not think my efforts at shepherding this young one are going to have a happy ending if I persist, and I think it will stand a better chance on its own. Unfortunately, I do not know anyone in the area it was found well enough that I feel I could ask them to start putting food out, so I will put it back somewhere and look at dropping a bit of dog food back there every night over the next week or two, as there is not much else I can do.

    FWIW, it was not found during the day, it was about 10pm and lok=oks healthy if a bit small, just that it was in the road where the towns pubs and takeaways are and it seemed like a far from ideal place. I was going to re-locate it around the corner, but then I recalled something I had been told when I found a juvenile in the day some years back and I thought it looked a little small, so here we are. And the local rescue is obviously inundated and have battened down the hatches… which I suppose indicates a healthy population around these parts?!

    Hopefully, the only effect of my intervention will be that they little one carries on about their business, hibernates, wakes up next year and tells its friends a fireside story about the alien that came in it’s big ship with lights, took it away for the night and showed it strange foods from far away lands.

    Thanks all again for your advice,


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    Hi Tony

    That’s even better that it wasn’t found in the daytime. Sorry I misread that in my haste!

    You did the right thing to check out alternatives, just unfortunate that the rescues are all full already. At least it has had a chance to have a good chomp, which will hopefully set it up well to continue it’s life.

    Is there any chance you could ask someone near there to put water out – I know it’s a bit of a big ask, if you don’t know them, but water is often harder for hogs to find than food and maybe people wouldn’t mind leaving some out. Just a thought.

    Love the hog story! It has had a bit of an adventure, but has hopefully also been helped on it’s way. On behalf of the hog (not best known for showing their gratefulness), thank you for caring.

    Good luck little hog.

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