The sudden change in the weather is having a worrying effect on hedgehogs. Some of the larger ones have gone into semi hibernation mode which has left the smaller ones on their own to search for food. We at Wormit Hedgehog Care Centre would like to see hedgehogs weighing at least 650 grams (1.5lb) by the end of this month if they are to survive hibernation.
With the long cold spell at the start of the year meant that the hedgehogs were later coming out of hibernation and therefore later before they had the first litter of babies. Normally September is when a lot of the second litter are born and these are the ones that are brought in to care for the winter since their natural food becomes less active and eventually disappears. It is not the cold that will kill these juveniles but the lack of food brought about by the cold so even in really cold weather they will have to continue to forage. Putting out extra food for the hedgehogs can be a lifesaver. Meaty cat or dog food, dried cat biscuits and even dried mealworms will all be appreciated by a hungry hedgehog.
This year has seen a large drop in the numbers reported or found requiring assistance. In previous years we have taken in around 30 by the end of March but this year it was the 22nd April before the first one was brought in and only 30 by the end of August. Please take extra care if raking up leaves and tidying your garden as there may be a hedgehog already nesting in there. Any piles of netting should be carefully examined in case one has decided to make a nest and better still store it away off the ground. If a hedgehog is caught in the net then please take it with either the whole net or the part it is caught in to a rescue centre where they will remove the net without more damage to the hedgehog. One caught in a net should be kept under observation for at least 7 days before deciding whether it has sustained internal injuries
People often say to me that hedgehogs are full of fleas. This used to be the case when I started to rehabilitate hedgehogs almost 19 years ago but this no longer seems to be the case. Many of the hedgehogs brought in do not have fleas, out of over 300 one year we were barely in to double figures for ones that needed treated. This is a worry because will the cause of the flea decline work its way up the chain and eventually affect the hedgehog population.
If you find a hedgehog needing help or if you need more advice you can call us on 01382 541311 or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 who have a list of carers – IT IS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY AND THE HEDGEHOG WILL BE HAPPY.