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Over wintering….

Home Forums Carers / rescuing a hedgehog Over wintering….

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    What do most of you use for ‘over wintering’ under weight hedgehogs in? Large plastic containers or hutches?


    Hi Payton49, I would say most here take them to a carer to look after for the winter. They have a lot more experience, and test them for parasites like intestinal worms , fleas and tics. I have never overwintered before. From what I read it can get a bit tricky. Those here that do have probably done the Vale course to gain invaluable knowledge.



    William, I over winter for rescues, so dont need to take them back there. I have done the Vale course and know they use plastic. I use both plastic and hutches, just wanted to know what others found easier/preferable.


    I use both. Plastic is obviously easier to clean and disinfect


    Further to that I only overwinter local hogs in the wooden hutches all others are in plastic to avoid any disease contamination


    Hi I have two underweight rescues, they have been here for 3 and 4 weeks now. I spoke to my local rescue lady who was very helpful and told me what signs to look out for and to get back to her if I was worried. They are doing really well and I am happy to keep them over winter. But, at the moment they are in wooden toy box, 3 feet long by 18 inches wide. I don’t think this is really large enough, but before I go and buy something else I would appreciate advice on what is ideal. Also, reading this thread, what is the Vale course? Thank you in advance for any advice anyone can give me.


    Hello Diana,

    Most local rescues tend to use the plastic containers, with breathing holes punched through the top and sides as they are easy to clean, reduce cross contamination and are easier to accommodate larger numbers of hogs in what are typically family homes taken over for purpose of becoming hog sanctuaries. The larger ‘Animal hospitals’ (like Tiggies) have specially built metal framed and stacked hutches – but with incoming numbers hitting over 800 in recent times – I expect they are also routinely running out of space and resorting to alternatives.
    Fostering under these circumstances (once hog is fixed and needs more general care) is a great idea and my local carer has done this for years with good levels of success. its good to hear of others taking the same approach as this can only be good news for the hog populations.
    we started off with guinea pig cages indoors, and whilst I was encouraged to use the plastic containers – I went along the upsizing route and invested in outdoor rabbit hutches that have two levels (Bluebell I think they are called from Pets at Home – or you can get them second hand much cheaper or even free!) – with a bit of home engineering, you can separate the levels from each other and provide a relatively large amount of space for each hog – it also provides an area that hog can build a nest and hide in, making it easier to change food and clean at the other end during the day when hog is asleep. we always put a sticky backed vinyl flooring over the wooden flooring and a good couple of inches up the sides from the floor on each level before use, for obvious reasons!
    These hutches are fairly mobile as well, so can be moved around without too much disturbance and can even go outside when nearer to release time or they have decided to hibernate.
    Difficult balance to make though – and no matter how much leg room we give them, it would never be enough to meet their natural habitat requirements. Certainly tugs at the heart strings to keep them captive for so long and some are more relaxed about it than others.

    take care with the hog weights when captive too – they may need diet bics if getting close to 1kg or not able to curl up fully.


    Thank you so much Jan-marie, I have now purchased a bluebell hutch, rearranged my house to accommodate it and will be re-locating the hogs in there tomorrow! Oh, the things we do for them!! They will be in a cooler room so maybe they will decide to hibernate? They now weigh over 700 grams each so I would like to slow their weight gain down but not sure how to go about this? Should I just cut down the amount of food I give or change the food? They have 3 sachets of cat food (which they finish off) and a bowl of dry cat food mixed with Spike hedgehog food, which they eat about half of, each day. Are the diet bics you mention cat biscuits for “fat cats”? They are together at the moment, I hope they will continue to be friends but with the bluebell hutch I can easily separate them if required. Thank you again for your advice.


    Hi Diana,

    sounds like you are well en-route to becoming a fully fledged foster carer for years to come!

    they are a good weight now – and you are right – that needs to be kept under control otherwise it will affect their general health (listen for any breathing issues as they get bigger) and reduce their chance of survival on release. They need to be able to curl up tightly with no flabby bits hanging out – but I did have a homper hog who was a fabulous chap and got to nearly 1200gms in captivity, but was healthy and could still curl up tight and made a good release locally, we continued to see him regularly over the summer as a garden visitor. they do grow to different sizes certainly.
    I would start to reduce their food now – you seem to be feeding quite a lot of food, and yes fat cat diet bics are the thing to go for to help here. I end up being really sparce with the food once they are at 800gms, barely a clenched handful each – better that they go a little hungry than go fat now – it also may encourage them to hibernate as you say, especially if placed in a cooler environment. I also tend to scatter some dry food in the cage as well as in the bowl as ‘enrichment’ to encourage foraging.
    I can understand why you want to keep them together, (assume they are the same sex?) I would feel the same – but be aware that one can end up bullying the other off the food, especially if reducing amounts you give them and it also increases risk of any illness spreading between them (less of a risk now if you’ve had them a while and they are doing ok).

    All best wishes and fingers crossed for you over the next few months!


    Hi, I have two hogs indoors at the moment. My hedgehog carer was unable to look after them, so advised me on what to do. Unfortunately due to personal issues is unable to advise at the moment.One is eating well etc doing well. Was an underweight juvenile, now 560 grms. The other a Male is now 620 grms ,picking at food drinking , but not pooing or weeing, is he thinking about hibernating.?This has be going on for a while. Brought him inside from hog hotel in green house as he was losing weight. He was another underweight juvenile. Found on 2/11/18. He has built himself a nice nest using hay, paper and dry leaves. Seems o.k otherwise. Comes out at least once at night. Both are in separate cages. Room temp low, at night cooler.


    Hi Barbara,

    Difficult to know what is going on with your male at 620grms – but we had a similar situation last year – and in fact the male that we had was about the same weight and had been doing very well – but then suddenly stopped eating and that went on for a couple of weeks. In a state of panic I contacted our local expert contact and she took him back off me- swapped for another one who was in good shape so she could accommodate him. he didn’t eat in her care either for many weeks, but didn’t hibernate either. he did eventually start eating again, but she did end up putting him on a few things in the meantime to keep his fluid levels up. I’m glad I swapped him out as its a nervous time when they do such things in your care. He eventually came back to me and I released him locally – he made a very healthy hog in fact and was the only one who ever managed to escape my soft release enclosure by tunnelling under the sides of the cage! Little Houdini! he was about to be released anyway – but decided he wasn’t hanging around.
    Is there another carer who could help you out here with yours – or swap him out so at least he’s getting the attention he needs for now? It would be a shame to lose him now after the time and effort put it. Never straight forward are they………


    Hi Jan-Marie,
    I have spoken to different wildlife organisations and vets. All have different opinions! One parasites , one blockage etc.etc. However, I have decided to take him to vets tomorrow who usually help out with poorly hogs, they will feel his tummy etc. He seems o.k in himself and I think if he was really blocked up, then he would be in a sorry state. I’ll let you know what the outcome is. Unfortunately my hog carer for many years is unable to help or advise at moment , so using the vet that she has a good rapport with.
    May give him some tasty worms from our natural compost heap.


    Hi Jan-Marie,I keep contact o a minimum so as not to stress them out. It is stressful for us. I begin to wonder if I should have left well alone, but as they were so small and the temperature had dropped to freezing, thought it was the right move,as my daughter found one on her drive frozen to death! Can only hope for the best.


    I know what you mean – its never an easy decision and we don’t really know the balance of risk too clearly when we don’t know why they behave as they do sometimes – even the Worldly experts get caught out.
    Hope all goes well – most hog addicts would have done the same thing I’m sure.

    Fingers crossed for you and your hogs – every survivor counts!


    Hi I found a hedgehog as the weather turned in November at dusk in our garden. He looked very small and so (as suggested somewhere i had read) we picked him up and weighed him. He was 127g and frost was forecast. I talked to vet and was recommended to over winter him as he wouldn’t survive hibernation. I bought a plastic rabbit hutch and am keeping him quiet in my laundry room with minimal interaction and radiator off, its 15-18 degrees which i believe is what is recommended. Am feeding him Cat food and dog food and hedgehog food. Apart form a tick, which we have got out, he looks in great health and now 670g.
    I’ve never done this before but am passionate about helping hedgehogs and have read a lot plus consulted vet.
    My question is now hes so much bigger, can i move him into the garage to encourage hibernation and keep and eye on him from there?
    DO you ever let them free given its mild weather so far? OR Should i keep looking after him until spring when there will be more natural food available, Im happy to put food out but there are no guarantees hell be back every night.
    thank you

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