Hey guys! For those of you who follow my social media updates, you’ll see that I absolutely love caring for wild hedgehogs in my home sanctuary. Over the last few years, I found a few baby hedgies and nursed them, making sure they were plump enough (600g) to make it through the winter. Because they’re so cute and I love to share clips of them, I get a lot of questions in my inbox about them and how to give them adequate care.
They should be hibernating during winter, but the has been a lot of activity still through November and December – so if you’re still seeing them out, please do offer some extra winter support!
So, here’s my quick guide on how to be a good hog momma or poppa:
For you, it’s just a garden, but for an adventurous little hedgehog on a nightly exploration, it’s a huge field full of potential snacks and interesting obstacles. To make things easier for the hedgies, you can cut a small hole on either side of your garden and sign up to the Hedgehog Highway
If you have a pond, make sure it’s easy for the hoglet to get in and out, because even though they can swim pretty well, they will soon get exhausted and struggle to climb out where there is a high edge.
Ideally you can build a ramp for them to access the pond
Hedgehogs love long grass, flowers, bushy spots, stacks of wood, hedges (obviously) and shrubs, so let some of your garden go wild and the hogs will come to make their nests and eat all the yummy bugs on offer
Take part in a hedgehog tracking project with very basic materials that you may already have laying around, as explained here
Leave food and water out in your garden for them to snack on – they love unsalted peanuts, cat food, and dog food. For dry biscuits, they can sit out for multiple days, but if using meaty tinned pet food, it shouldn’t be out for more than 1 night. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so don’t feed them anything with milk, also, dried mealworms are not very good for them either
Buy or build a feeding and drinking station that is easy for the hogs to access. If you don’t have time to put food out for them every evening, stick with dry dog or cat food as it is full of protein and fat which can help them get chubby enough to survive the winter
Insecticides and lawn killers are full of nasty chemicals that irritate the hedgies and kill off their primary source of food – worms!
Build a log pile in your garden for the hedgehogs to nest in, but if you intend to burn this pile later, make sure no critters are snuggled away in there
If you can get close enough, check their eyes for redness or discharge for signs of disease, also check them for fleas, and if their spines appear to be falling out, they may need to see a vet
Don’t pick them up too much – overhandling can stress them out, but they do like to cuddle and bond with people. Some people keep hedgehogs as indoor pets and cuddle them like they would a kitten
If you see a skinny hog in the build-up to winter (October, November time), try to weigh it. If it weighs less than 600-650g, search for your nearest hedgehog rescue centre
It’s unusual to see a hog out during the day time, but if you do, it’s likely that they are very stressed and suffering from hypothermia. To rescue them, wrap them in a towel and put them with a hot water bottle somewhere dry, like a recycling box
Where can you go for more help?
Here are some of the best resources for helping our spiky little friends:
There you have it!
It doesn’t take much time or energy to save some hog lives this winter, so we ask you to take an interest in your garden’s spiky visitors this year. Who knows, you might fall in love with them!