Accessibility Homepage Skip navigation Sitemap

Forum

Register and log in to gain access to our forums and chat about everything 'hedgehog'!

Thank you for looking to contribute to the Hedgehog Street forum. Please note that when submitting replies or posts, these are run through our spam-checkers, so there may be a slight delay in your posts appearing, and reflecting in the forum post details below. However, if you think anything has gone awry please contact us.

The views and opinions expressed in this forum do not necessarily represent the views of PTES or BHPS.

Looking after a baby hedgehog

Home Forums Carers / rescuing a hedgehog Looking after a baby hedgehog

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #12374

    Hi! I’m new to these forums so please bear with me, I hope I’m in the right place.

    Last weekend (evening of Sat 29th) our neighbour found a very small hedgehog hanging out on her own. Given that we’ve recently been getting very cold, often frosty nights, we took her in and weighed her at around 200g. The original plan was to get her to a rescue place if possible, but given that she’s eating very readily and seems completely healthy and strong in every way other than her small size this time of year (guessing the long hot summer has possibly caused some late breeding?) we’ve been raising her ourselves as would be great to be able to release her back into the area she’s from. So far she’s been doing well as far as we’re aware, hard to tell as couldn’t get her to sit still for very long on the scales but she’s possibly gained a few grams in the last week. Would like help, advice, tips, whatever, from the experts though please? We’ve been feeding her a variation of wet cat foods which she’s been readily eating but is there anything better that’s nutritionally tailored for hedgehogs? Is it better to feed wet than dry because of the water content? Hard to tell if she’s been drinking much water, could she be drinking less because of the wet food?

    Help and advice really appreciated, please and thanks! Amazing having the opportunity to look after this wonderful little girl (???) (Miranda) and will do anything within our means to raise her healthy and get her to the point of a safe release 🙂

    #12382

    Hi IndiaHawker,

    I’ve overwintered hogs for many years for various reasons – and believe me when I say its an emotional rollercoaster and you don’t want to go into that situation if you can help it.
    the best thing you can do for this hog is get her checked out by a hog carer – they may check poo for signs of parasites and treat her – but to work towards releasing her is the very best advise.
    She will put on weight very quickly when captive – in fact it becomes a problem trying to manage their weight when captive as they simply eat when food is available to the point of them becoming at risk when released as they are beyond healthy.
    whilst they are captivated and charming and we think they are healthy because active – this tends to be a result of their stress levels – and she will simply be looking for an escape when she is awake. sometimes they pace and scratch so much that they injure themselves in the process – which is also something you don’t want to be witnessing.
    Please take a look on the location map on the hedgehog bottom website for your nearest rescue / carer and talk to them, get her checked out and take their advise.
    http://www.hedgehog-rescue.org.uk/cms/find-a-rescue/
    hope it all goes well and keep an eye out for any others that may be around – as they usually hang around in groups when tiny.

    #12397

    I have looked after and encouraged the hedgehogs in my garden for a number of years and rescued a few sick and injured ones as well as a couple of under-weight juveniles but have always taken them to local experienced carers. They are the ones who can check for lungworm burdens etc and treat them and get them to vets with an interest in hogs if required.

    I would never attempt to do it myself as I just don’t have the facilities and experience and the hedgehog is best off in the right hands for over-wintering and treatment when required. I’ve had hedgehogs returned to me after successful treatment and released them back into my garden where there are hog houses as well food and water and all went well. Probably the rest route for hedgehog… and human rescuer!

    #12399

    Fully agree Digannio,

    They are complex creatures with complex needs and my early days were also spent thinking I was doing the right thing by taking them in and giving them a home over winter. I look back now and feel guilty about some of my actions – as these creatures clearly needed the right care. Its a huge learning curve, and I would only recommend that people go down this route if they are prepared in terms of having or being prepared to create the right environment for them and establish strong connections with a good source of hog expertise that can be readily accessed.
    experienced hog carers are precious people – with precious little time or funds – certainly the one I associate with has been grateful for having options to extend her outsourced rehoming and support activities when times are difficult for accommodating numbers of hogs that she has ‘fixed’. Its something that could work if people are able and prepared to put the effort in to.

    #12401

    The carers I have had dealings with have been amazing people and sometimes seem to be pushed to the limit with lines of cages, bags of feed and supplies of medications everywhere. I always make a donation to the upkeep of any hogs I take along because it seems such a time-consuming and expensive thing to do. Must take over people’s lives as they can’t just pop off on holiday or a weekend away with a houseful of hogs always demanding attention.

    I would also always be fearful of trying to look after a hedgehog myself as I also gather that if they are ill they can sometimes go downhill really quickly, particularly younger ones, especially if they have something like a large lungworm burden and the stress of captivity on top.

    I suppose the fact is that although it seems a great thing to offer a hedgehog a warm, cosy place to spend some time while being fed, all they really want to do is be in some grubby, overgrown, cool place out in the wild and have as little contact with those two-footed giants as possible!

    #12402

    Absolutely Digannio – I couldn’t agree more!

    The arrangement I have with my Hog expert is that I relieve her of her overburdened numbers sometimes (she has a small house and over 50 cages between in and out doors) – her house is completely taken over with them and supplies and medications etc and she never refuses taking one in when people arrive on the doorstep – but she can only do this if she can outsource the ones that she considers are fixed and simply need to be fed and routinely cared for before release or return. Most are returned once she is able to hand them back for release – but we help release any excess also.
    we have had a few that we believed fixed – but as you say – showed sudden illness – and then they go straight back to her and usually swapped with another healthy one, so she has room.
    You are right – they are wild creatures at the end of the day – and they simply want and need to live a wild and free existence. Captivity must be unbearable and distressing for them and difficult to watch to be honest. the balance of fixing and caring for them versus freedom is always going to be difficult – but I have seen some wonderful outcomes for what would otherwise have been tragic outcomes, as a result for these creatures.

    #12403

    I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing better than the sight of a hog that’s been put back together once again out there foraging in the garden… and huffing loudly at you and its fellow hogs! Sounds like you do a great job for these fantastic creatures.

    #12404

    Nic

    I recommend that anyone wanting to find their nearest hedgehog carer contact the BHPS on 01584 890801.

    Found a hedgehog?

    #12451

    Hey again all! Sorry for late response but thank you all very much for your knowledgeable responses. Been two weeks and she seems to be doing well. I will have a look on the link provided for the hedgehog experts, however I’m unsure about the likelihood of actually getting her to one as neither of us drive – all we have locally is a small veterinary practice, and from everything I gather in general vets don’t have much knowledge specifically towards hedgehogs.

    whilst they are captivated and charming and we think they are healthy because active – this tends to be a result of their stress levels – and she will simply be looking for an escape when she is awake. sometimes they pace and scratch so much that they injure themselves in the process – which is also something you don’t want to be witnessing.

    I’m glad you mentioned this actually as I believe the behaviour I’ve witnessed shows she’s doing well – first couple of days we had her, I could hold her without much if any protest from her – now if I try to hold her (only really when we clean her out) she is intent on returning to her bed – which hopefully means it’s familiar and comfortable to her, and she’s behaving as a hedgehog should. Has never come close to injuring herself as it’s only for short periods of time and she’s either in my hands or being closely supervised on the floor but will move faster than I ever imagined a hedgehog could, I imagine to try and get back to bed, and if I try to stop her track with my hand she will nudge/shove into me strongly with her little nose to try and get through – and once her bed has been cleaned and put back and I put her back, she makes a beeline straight to it.

    We’ve raised baby/young animals with both positive and negative outcomes before so can fully understand and appreciate the emotional rollercoaster but it’s something I’m willing to go through with. If we were worried about Miranda in any way, or if there were even any tiny signs at all that there was anything not right then we would be actively looking into transporting her to the nearest hedgehog specialist, or a the local vet at bare minumum. But she is thriving in every way we can tell (and my OCD makes me notice and become very paranoid about anything possibly wrong – eg last night I panicked because she was curled up extra tight – just for her to wake up and do everything she’s expected/supposed to do).

    Anything I don’t know/need to know, please tell me. I am willing to learn and do anything I need to do in order to take good care of Miranda and be able to release her myself when she’s ready. Whether that means sifting through her extremely smelly poo with my bare hands or buying a night-vision camera that links to my phone so I can check on her night and day with no disturbance, I’ll do everything I can.

    A few questions:

    – How often is best to clean out a hedgehog? We’ve been keeping her indoors in a large indoor dog crate with a combination of torn up newspaper and dead leaves – with intentions to move her to/attach a larger dog pen and include a tray with dirt from outdoors, sticks, etc, to make it as natural as possible for her. Her bed has been a cardboard box inside the dog crate full of torn up newspaper and leaves. We’re replacing the box today as she’s been weeing in it but keeping some bedding so the smell is familiar to her. At first we were cleaning the box out daily but we’ve reconsidered and switched to weekly because we believe that even though it smells, she prefers it that way – are we correct?

    – Handling-wise – considering Miranda is obviously wild and we have the full intention of returning her to the wild – BUT we’re not sure when this will be depending on whether she puts on enough weight to hibernate this winter or whether we have to overwinter her – is it better to handle her less for now (which we have been), or handle her more just for the moment to make cleaning her out less stressful for her, but wean her off of human contact gradually before releasing her?

    – Sort of following on from the last question: Last night we changed her bedding (after nearly a week) as she had dragged a large amount of leaves out (we don’t know whether on purpose or by accident) and wondered if it was because they were dirty. When I got her out (late evening I believe) I was really worried at first because she was curled up more tightly than I’ve seen her so far. I was worried that she had either gone into hibernation or passed away. Then like it was nothing she just woke up and acted as normal. I feel like I’ve read that underweight hedgehogs aren’t able to curl up as tightly/well whereas fatter hedgehogs can. Could this be a good sign that she’s gaining weight? Or could she have curled up more tightly because she was stressed at being handled as we’ve been making a point to handle her minimally lately – which brings me back to the above question!

    – And lastly – I’ve read that hedgehogs can roam for miles a night, but do they come back to a specific ‘home’? Plan to set up some hog houses in the garden at some point (we have a lot of long grass and sticks/overgrown spots in our garden so would likely be perfect for hedgehogs. But would be interesting to know if upon releasing Miranda, there would be a chance of her setting up home in our garden and returning frequently?

    We honestly wouldn’t be caring for Miranda if we didn’t believe we could provide at least adequate and hopefully good care for her whilst we are lucky enough to have her. Anything I need to know I will willingly learn and I have a decent amount of free time to dedicate to her – would really appreciate some more help, please and thank you! 🙂

    #12460

    Hi
    I’ve copied your questions below with responses.
    In the light of the fact you are unwilling/unable to take the hog to a carer then this is my advice – APOLOGIES FOR THE CAPS BUT CAN’T FIND HOW ELSE TO SHOW RESPONSES

    ADD DRIED FOOD TO WHAT YOU’RE GIVING HER TO HELP WITH DENTAL ISSUES

    THE PROBLEM WITH HOGS IN CAPTIVITY IS THAT ANY PARASITIC BURDEN THEY HAVE CAN BECOME WORSE BECAUSE OF STRESS TO THE POINT IT BECOMES OVERWHELMING. VALE WILDLIFE CENTRE WILL ANALYSE A POO SAMPLE IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM AS MAY YOUR NEAREST CARER OR VET

    PLEASE CONTACT THE BHPS AND FIND YOUR NEAREST CARER. ALL THESE QUESTIONS YOU NEED ANSWERS FOR WILL HAPPILY BE GIVEN AND THEY WILL BE ON HAND FOR ANY ISSUES

    How often is best to clean out a hedgehog? ( EATING AREA DAILY, SLEEPING AREA WEEKLY OR AS REQUIRED )
    We’ve been keeping her indoors in a large indoor dog crate with a combination of torn up newspaper and dead leaves – with intentions to move her to/attach a larger dog pen and include a tray with dirt from outdoors, sticks, etc, to make it as natural as possible for her. Her bed has been a cardboard box inside the dog crate full of torn up newspaper and leaves.
    CONSIDER MOVING THE CRATE TO YOUR GARAGE OR SHED. UNLESS SHE STARTS TO HIBERNATE IT’S BETTER TO TAKE HER OUT OF THE HEAT AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENT. ALSO ADD HAY TO THE BEDDING AS IT’S WARMER
    We’re replacing the box today as she’s been weeing in it but keeping some bedding so the smell is familiar to her.
    FINE
    At first we were cleaning the box out daily but we’ve reconsidered and switched to weekly because we believe that even though it smells, she prefers it that way – are we correct?
    YES THEY GET STRESSED IF THEY CONSTANTLY MOVE TO NEW SMELLS

    – Handling-wise – considering Miranda is obviously wild and we have the full intention of returning her to the wild – BUT we’re not sure when this will be depending on whether she puts on enough weight to hibernate this winter or whether we have to overwinter her – is it better to handle her less for now (which we have been), or handle her more just for the moment to make cleaning her out less stressful for her, but wean her off of human contact gradually before releasing her?
    DO NOT HANDLE ANY MORE THAN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY – EG WEIGHING. WHEN MUCKING OUT USE SOME OF HER BEDDING TO GENTLY PUSH HER OUT OF THE WAY
    DO NOT TALK TO HER
    AS YOU HAVE BROUGHT HER IN ALREADY AT THIS TIME OF YEAR YOU WILL NOW BE LOOKING AT OVERWINTERING HER

    – Sort of following on from the last question: Last night we changed her bedding (after nearly a week) as she had dragged a large amount of leaves out (we don’t know whether on purpose or by accident) and wondered if it was because they were dirty. When I got her out (late evening I believe) I was really worried at first because she was curled up more tightly than I’ve seen her so far. I was worried that she had either gone into hibernation or passed away. Then like it was nothing she just woke up and acted as normal. I feel like I’ve read that underweight hedgehogs aren’t able to curl up as tightly/well whereas fatter hedgehogs can. Could this be a good sign that she’s gaining weight? Or could she have curled up more tightly because she was stressed at being handled as we’ve been making a point to handle her minimally lately – which brings me back to the above question!
    SHE WAS PROBABLY ASLEEP AND THEN FRIGHTENED AND CURLED UP. UNLESS HOGS ARE VERY SICK OR TOO FAT THEY CAN CURL UP

    – And lastly – I’ve read that hedgehogs can roam for miles a night, but do they come back to a specific ‘home’? Plan to set up some hog houses in the garden at some point (we have a lot of long grass and sticks/overgrown spots in our garden so would likely be perfect for hedgehogs. But would be interesting to know if upon releasing Miranda, there would be a chance of her setting up home in our garden and returning frequently?
    FEMALE HOGS TEND TO HAVE SEVERAL NESTS IN A SMALLER AREA – MALES ROAM FURTHER. IF SHE LIKES YOUR GARDEN SHE MAY STAY BUT IT’S ANYONES GUESS

    We honestly wouldn’t be caring for Miranda if we didn’t believe we could provide at least adequate and hopefully good care for her whilst we are lucky enough to have her. Anything I need to know I will willingly learn and I have a decent amount of free time to dedicate to her – would really appreciate some more help, please and thank you! 🙂
    PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR NEAREST CARER – THEY ARE ALWAYS HAPPY TO HELP

    #12470

    Hello All,

    Can I just make a couple of points here – and apologies for any contradiction in advise above – but its important for the sake of the hog welfare.

    1. Its essential you get the hog checked out by people who know what to look for – parasite burden isn’t readily visible and she can hide it for weeks, but it will kill her if she has it, and most do have it when checked, Tiggywinkles just treats all intakes due to the risk- you will regret not having her checked out if she dies – my local rescue contact will always take a posted sample, as will yours I expect – but if this comes back positive you must get her treated and this is a course that can take several weeks and months. you may already be too late in doing this.
    2. The question of where to keep her – I’m sorry I don’t agree with the shed / garage – and this is for several reasons. if she is still small, then putting her in a dark place with no natural light pattern and no controlled temperature will first of all confuse her and then encourage her to hibernate, which will then kill her being underweight. small hogs under 600 / 700gms must be kept at a constant 18 to 20 deg C temperature to stop them hibernating and to encourage them to continue feeding until heavy enough to hibernate – if you get this balance wrong, she will die. All good rescues will try and stop small hogs hibernating until they are a good weight and show natural signs of wanting to – which they will only do if they can experience natural light and dark patterns. Only once naturally hibernating can they be moved into a shed or garage, only an experienced person would be able to assess this properly also – but must be checked regularly (not picked up nor weighed during this time)
    3. cleaning out is highly hog dependent – some foul their sleeping areas and some don’t – if they foul their sleeping areas they should be cleaned out at least weekly, but not totally so their smell remains on bedding – if they don’t foul sleeping areas, then their nest can be left, its their only sanctuary from you when captive and only the external from nest areas cleaned out daily along with fresh water and food supplies
    4. Feeding whilst captive is tricky – they will over eat and this is dangerous to their health – they should not go over 1kg whilst captive and they must be able to curl up into a tight ball – you are putting them at risk of heart problems and predator attack on release if you don’t manage this. diet bics are advised if they get plump.
    5. Minimise handling and put them in a place where they get minimal visibility of you and any household noise (and response to the daylight levels that are so important to them) – like vacuum cleaners and TVs etc, children. Don’t talk to them, or at them, even softly, or hold them to your face, they don’t like it. Don’t put them out to run about in the evenings is not a good idea – and quite stressful for them – they are just trying to get away from you, as you are the biggest threat to them whilst they are with you – they aren’t pets or talking points to show off to guests either!
    6. Don’t release her without getting advise on how to do this – as you’ve plucked her out of the wild you have a responsibility to put her back, but to do so in a way that doesn’t impede her ability to survive. I would suggest that as Winter draws in you are losing release options – but this is still possible under the right conditions. She probably wont stay in your garden either – but its always a good idea to put out hog houses and keep food supplies going through the winter anyway.

    Please, Please contact a hog rescue – even if simply a phone call to chat – they will do their best to help you and to help the hog.

    #12473

    I don’t normally bother getting involved in arguements on this forum as everyone has their own thoughts, however in this case I think it important to point out a few issues.

    It is not essential to medicate hogs unless they have a heavy worm burden. Hogs have a certain tolerance to parasites as they are in the food they eat. If we routinely clear all the parasites out of a hog and then put it back into the wild it will immediately pick up a heavy burden that it may have lost its tolerance for.
    We do know that the stress of captivity can make parasitic burdens worse hence some organisations/people routinely worming, but that is not necessarily in the best interests of the hog. Far better to routinely monitor but not treat unless required.

    It is not essential to keep hogs at this temperature unless they are ill. They do not necessarily hibernate – the stress of captivity and access to constant food often means they don’t bother. Again it is a case of monitoring and moving if they show signs of hibernation.
    I am a very experienced rehabillitator and keep all my overwintering hogs in a garage or outdoor hutches and very rarely do they try to hibernate. They also expend more energy having to keep warm and do not get fat as quickly.
    I neglected to mention in my comment earlier about daylight and this is important so doors need keeping open if you don’t have windows. Artificial light will suffice though

    In my opinion to release a hoglet at this time of year when it has not had time to work out it’s natural food sources, make any dry hiberniculum or even day nests would be irresponsible. Even if you get it up to weight it would lose a great deal on release

    I would also note however that young hoglets are often better overwintered in pairs or more as they find it less stressful. However again this is a situation that needs monitoring in case one of the hogs is a bully

    The BHPS have issued guidelines which I have posted on here before on releasing hedgehogs and also ‘safe’ weight for hogs – please take a look on their site as they give collaborative views from ‘expert’ parties

    Finally I stress you need to contact your nearest carer so you can get advise directly and not conflicting views

    #12474

    Goodness! I certainly had no intentions of getting involved in arguments of any description Stef- and perhaps I shouldn’t be responding again in this case – but simply to say that there is varying advice available – mine comes from continued work with local hog rescues and carers and overwintering hogs myself over many years.
    I’m sure we all just want the best outcome for the little hog that IndiaHawker has taken in and is looking for advice on.

    I have nothing else to add on this topic.

    but good luck anyway IndiaHawker – hope it works out for you and hog.

    #12475

    Yes you are right we all want the same thing.
    IndiaHawker please contact your local carer for help and advice, I think that has been the main message from us all

    #12476

    As all of us hogaholics are well aware, there is no such thing as a typical hog and I am sure that they must be one of the hardest species to care for. Anyone who dedicates their time and energy to caring for them is a very special person who has their own expertise built upon years of experience. I am sure that I speak for many others on the forum when I say that ALL of your advice is very much appreciated and an invaluable insight into the mysterious and contradictory world of the hedgehog, because what may work for one may not always work for another.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Hedgehog