This fantastic article has been sourced from Wild Bird Care Charitable Trust and serves as a great recourse if you find a hedgehog in need of care.
Any hedgehog seen out in daylight is likely to need help. They are nocturnal and if seen in daylight will probably be sick.
URGENT HELP is needed if you see a hedgehog with:
- Cuts or wounds.
- Flies, tiny white eggs or maggots (small white worms) anywhere on the hedgehog.
- A hedgehog that limps or is wobbly
- A hedgehog who is very thin and not a round shape when picked up
- A hedgehog that has bald patches, a crusty skin or missing spines
- Wire or string wrapped around it
- Stays in the same spot in the open during the day for any length of time
It is important to contact a Hedgehog Rescue Centre as soon as possible for more advice BUT before contacting them you should do the following:
- Pick the hedgehog up with an old towel to protect yourself from the prickles. They will not bite but may make a snorting noise and curl up. This is a protection device as they think we are predators to them. They will be very sick if they do not curl up.
- Put the hedgehog in a box, or cat cage lined with newspaper and an old towel down one end. If the hedgehog is sick it will need warmth so a warm (not hot) hot water bottle covered with a 2nd towel will help. Give water only (not milk or bread, both of which will make the hedgehog sick) and a small amount of tinned cat or dog food (not fish) in a heavy shallow dish they can’t tip over. You may also give small cat biscuits. Make sure you have a lid with air holes and closes firmly as they are great escape artists!
- If you see tiny white eggs try and brush off with an old toothbrush. It is important to check that they are not in its ears or on its face.
- Place the box somewhere warm, dry and quiet. Handle as little as possible and very gently.
- As with all animals strict hygiene rules should apply. Make sure after handling the hedgehog or their bedding that you wash your hands thoroughly.
Hedgehogs are officially sized by weight to determine their size but another way is to compare them to different ball sizes because that is what you will see immediately.
- Golf or Ping Pong Ball size: This would be a baby who may have left or lost its nest. Warmth is crucial and needed immediately. Contact a Rescue Centre because it may need to be syringe fed and re-hydrated.
- Tennis Ball: A juvenile hedgehog which may be able to feed itself but it may not because it is unwell. Occasionally when young hedgehogs leave the nest they are confused between night and day. Place it in a box with food and water in a warm environment and leave overnight, if the hedgehog hasn’t eaten it is probably sick.
- Grapefruit size: A hedgehog this size will be able to feed itself, but still may not be an adult. It will need warmth and food and water if unwell, some hedgehogs will only eat at night and not much or nothing during the day.
- Larger than grapefruit size: They are an adult hedgehog and if outside during the day may have been attacked by a dog, have mange, or been injured in some other way. Remember any wounds will eventually attract flies.
The NZ Hedgehog Carers' Handbook 4th Edition by Peg Loague Available for $13.00 incl. postage within NZ. This handbook with photos is a great help for anyone wising to care for hedgehogs. All proceeds go towards the updating and printing of the next edition. Contact Peg Loague to order a copy. Please contact a rescue centre as soon as possible for advice - details are given below: Hedgehog Haven - Peg Loague Peg will be able to give you further advice and possibly have a contact in your local area. PO Box 119, Taupo, Tel:07 378 7630 Lyn McDonald Lyn is Auckland based and will give further advice. 79 Avonleigh Rd, Green Bay, Auckland, Tel:09 816 9219