When it comes to baby hedgehogs (AKA hoglets) there are several things you should know. We’re now approaching the time of year where it’s not uncommon to see juvenile hedgehogs roaming about in your garden. Juvenile hedgehogs are hoglets born late in the season and many don’t have enough fat stores to survive the winter. If you’ve noticed a tiny little critter in your garden and think the hoglet may be a bit on the small side, there are several things you can do to help the little one make it through the colder months:

Observe

Before any kind of intervention it’s important that you observe the situation first. Is the hoglet on its own? Are it’s eyes open? Has it been roaming around during the day?

These questions are crucial because if the hoglet is on it’s own it may be an orphan and therefore intervention is necessary. If a hoglet’s eyes are closed and on it’s own, it is probably still very, very young and it’s mother may have been killed. If a hoglet is wandering around during the day, the little one has been orphaned. 

Weight

A hoglet’s weight will tell you a lot about them. If they are under 300g, the hoglet probably needs specialist care. Wrap a hot water bottle in a tea towel and put it in a box filled with leaves. When the hoglet is safe and cosy, contact the RSPCA, BHPS or your local hedgehog rescue to find out what to do next. If the hoglet is between 300 and 500g and was born late in the season, they likely don’t have the fat reserves to survive the winter and will need a helping hand from you, their human buddy. 

There’s plenty of things you can do to help when it comes to hoglets that are a bit on the small side. Two tablespoons of crushed dog or cat food will be appreciated massively and so will a regular bowl of fresh water. Better yet, shop tailor-made hedgehog food from Spike’s– it is more nutritionally balanced and geared towards hedgehogs. 

A safe place

Juvenile hedgehogs need a safe place to nest where they are sheltered from the harsh elements of the colder months. This space doesn’t need to be heated, but it’s worth providing a box lined with leaves and scrunched up newspaper so the hoglet can hibernate if it wants to. Make sure you leave fresh food and water in case they wake up and don’t turn the lights on wherever possible; you don’t want to interfere with hedgehogs natural day/night cycle. Leave the curtain or blinds open and let the natural light shine through during the day. 

Say goodbye

Once the hoglet has packed on a bit of weight (and is over 550g), it is safe to release them back into the place you find them (as long as you found them in a safe place). If the weather conditions are really harsh then it’s probably best to wait, but if the weather is mild and damp then you’re good to go! It may be difficult to say your goodbyes but you can have peace of mind knowing you’ve done your bit to keep a tiny hog safe and sound. 

hedgehog-feeding-station

In the wild, hedgehogs have quite a varied diet as they eat lots of creepy crawlies, called invertebrates, such as: worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, and millipedes. Hedgehogs have been known to attempt to eat wasps and bees before as their stings interestingly do not affect them, but hedgehogs will usually enjoy eating frogs, baby rodents and bird’s eggs, too – if they are lucky!

As hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, they hunt for the delicious creepy crawlies at night, which can often be found in hedgerows, undergrowth or in the soil. When hedgehogs are foraging for their dinner, they often make a loud snuffling noise as they search. Some people say this sounds similar to a pig’s grunt, which is why they are called ‘hedgehogs’.

Feeding hedgehogs in your garden

With winter fast approaching, food in the wild will soon become sparse, meaning not all hedgehogs will have enough fat stored. For this reason, you should provide food for wild hedgehogs in your garden ahead of the change in weather.

In your garden, you should try to provide a safe habitat for hedgehogs and supplement their natural diet. You can do this by providing nutritious dry and wet food that is high in protein in your garden, such as Spike’s Crunchy Dry or Spike’s Meaty Feast. This will not replace their natural diet, but instead act as a supplement or an addition.

You should also leave out a shallow bowl of fresh water every night for the hedgehogs so they can stay hydrated while on their journey. It is important that you do not leave out milk for hedgehogs, this is a common myth, as they are lactose intolerant and milk can make them quite ill.

Building a hedgehog feeding station

Putting food out in your garden is bound to attract other types of wildlife, including predators, like foxes. 

To prevent this from happening, you could create a hedgehog feeding station, which will make it much more difficult for larger animals to access and steal the food that is intended for hedgehogs. The station could be created from an upside-down plastic box with a piece of piping leading inside, where the food and the water will be safely placed.

As multiple hedgehogs could be feeding from the same station, be sure to wash the compartments thoroughly and use shallow bowls for your spiky visitors and be sure to keep these separate from those that you use yourselves or for other pets.

Beginner's Guide To Hedgehogs

This time of the year sees the arrival of thousands of baby hedgehogs across the country and, with less of us going on holiday this summer, we’re getting more sightings than ever of these tiny spiky mammals. 

While June and July are the typical birthing season for hoglets, after the mating season in early summer, hedgehogs often have a second litter of hoglets in August and September.

This time of the year is crucial for hedgehogs, as they need to build up fat stores ahead of hibernation in October or November. 

However, with less food and water available due to urban sprawl and the use of pesticides killing insect populations – which are their main food source – many aren’t able to build up the reserves they need to make it through winter. 

Officially classed as a ‘vulnerable to extinction’ species according to The Mammal Society’s Red List, if you spot a hedgehog in your garden for the first time, check out our hedgehog guide for beginners so you know what to do. 

How to help hedgehogs in your garden

If you want to help protect one of Britain’s best-loved animals, there are lots of simple tips and tricks to make life a little easier for them:

  1. Leave a small gap in your garden fence to allow them to get in and out easily. You could even chat with your neighbours and encourage them to do the same, this creates a safe Hedgehog Highway through your gardens, which is crucial to their mating rituals and feeding habits.
  2. Leave out hedgehog food, such as Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist, and water in a shallow bowl to help them build up fat stores ahead of winter.
  3. Create a hedgehog habitat, using a plastic tub with a lid with a 15cm hole cut out for access, and place bricks on top to keep secure from predators. Put a little hay or grass inside and cover the top with leaves to make them feel at home.
  4. Leave an area of grass uncut to grow wild  because not only are lawnmowers responsible for a large number of hedgehog injuries, but keeping the grass long helps encourage more insects  into your garden which acts as a food source for hedgehogs.
  5. Help us record hedgehog population numbers in your area by noting any sightings on our Hedgehog Hotspot Map at https://www.spikesfood.co.uk/submit-sighting/

Hedgehog Myths vs. Facts 

Despite being one of our favourite British species, there’s still a lot of misleading information out there that could potentially harm hedgehogs. 

MYTH 1: ‘Hedgehogs like milk and bread​’

BUSTER 1: Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Instead, leave them a shallow bowl of water and something to eat which is protein based, like Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist.​

MYTH 2: ‘Hedgehogs transmit fleas to your pets​’
BUSTER 2: Hedgehogs are often labelled as ‘fleabags’. However, the hedgehog flea (archaeopsylla erinacei) can only survive on hedgehogs. If the flea was transmitted onto your pet, it would simply drop off.​

MYTH 3 ‘Hedgehogs hibernate all winter long’
BUSTER 3: Hedgehogs will often venture out from time to time during the hibernation period to top up on food and even move nests!

What now for hedgehogs?

Despite these challenges, there are reasons to hope. Lockdown saw a mini-resurgence in hedgehog population levels and we’re hoping our efforts to raise awareness about the need to protect UK wildlife will continue to boost numbers. 

New research has found that British hedgehogs are now officially vulnerable to extinction! The Red List conservation report, which was conducted by The Mammal Society, has categorised hedgehogs as vulnerable and explains that our spiky friends could be at risk of dying out completely if we don’t take drastic action to prevent numbers from dropping.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) has said that the recognition of hedgehogs’ vulnerable status is an opportunity. It will raise awareness of the importance of maintaining the habitats that hedgehogs need to thrive. Here at Spike’s we know just how much everyone does to help their local hedgehogs, but we need to encourage the Government to enforce wildlife friendly practices to ensure their long-term survival.

Hedgehogs experience a lot of day to day threats. Sadly, the biggest threat to hedgehogs is losing their habitat due to changes in farming methods. We can also see the threat of pesticides used in intensive farming and gardening which can kill the creature’s need for food and can also poison them directly. Our gardens too have become dangerous places for hedgehogs as strimmer’s cut back the areas that they hibernate in which can cause serious wounds. Garden netting is also dangerous unless lifted high above the ground. Busier roads and new developments often leave no connectivity between gardens which can disrupt dispersal routes for hedgehogs and there is also an increasing number of badgers which are their main natural predator!

What you can do to help?

The good news is that the lack of cars on the road in lockdown has allowed hedgehogs to move freely which has caused experts to predict a ‘Hoglet Baby Boom’! Here are our top tips to help keep hedgehogs healthy and happy:

  1. Create a hedgehog highway in your garden! We’d recommend making a 15cm hole in your fence so that hedgehogs can pass through safely and easily on their journey to other gardens as well as yours.

 

  1. Leave out a nutritious bowl of food and remember to put out plenty of fresh water every night. You can check out our range of specialist Hedgehog Food here.

 

  1. Create a wild corner by leaving an area of your garden naturally unkempt. Hedgehogs can use the fallen leaves, and dead vegetation to build their nests and it also provides a home for insects that hedgehogs can feed on.

 

  1. Make your garden hedgehog friendly by avoiding using pesticides, hedgehogs can help and eat the bugs instead! Ensure any drains are covered as it’s easy for hedgehogs to fall in and get trapped. Although hedgehogs are good swimmers, they can also get stuck in ponds so be sure to make a little ramp out for them.

 

  1. Build a hedgehog house! Shelter is essential for a hedgehog’s survival during the winter so choose a quiet spot that is unlikely to be disturbed.

Once you have made your garden hedgehog-friendly and you do see a hedgehog, we encourage you to record your sighting in our online, which will help us track population levels of hedgehogs moving forward.

Hedgehog Garden

Despite hedgehogs being named Britain’s favourite mammal in 2016, some Brits are still unsure as to what to do if they have a hedgehog visit their garden and more importantly, how to keep their gardenhedgehog friendly and casualty-free. 

How to prepare a Hedgehog friendly garden 

Here are our top tips that keep the prickly visitors safe and happy for when they next come to visit: 

1.  Leave a nutritious bowl of food and water out 

The hedgehogs and their newly born hoglets are going to be very hungry and thirsty, so we recommend leaving out a bowl of nutritious food for them to eat, such as our Crunchy Dry Food alongside a bowl of water.
 

2. Create a small gap in your fence  

Create a small hedgehog size hole in your fence, so that they can pass through safely and easily on their journey to other gardens as well as yours. We’d recommend making your hole approximately 15cm wide so hedgehogs can easily fit through the gap.
 

3. Cover any exposed drains  

It is important to cover any exposed drains in your garden as it is easy for small hedgehogs to get trapped and potentially suffer from chemical burns from the residue of your kitchen cleaning products, which would be very distressing for the hoglets 

4. Clear your garden of any rubbish 

Hedgehogs are curious creaturesmeaning that they sometimes rummage through any open rubbish bags, which may contain sharp objects, like a tin can lid. We’d always recommend ensuring that your rubbish bags are tied tightly so hedgehogs and their hoglets can’t make their way inside. 

Hedgehogs also love to nest in bin bags, so it is vital that you check them before throwing them away! 

5. Avoid using pesticides and other garden chemicals 

Many pesticides and other garden chemicals contain poisons – for example slug pellets  which are deadly to hedgehogs and other garden wildlife. We would advise you to use more organic methods, such as soapy water, marigolds, or peppermint plants. Hedgehogs like to munch on bugs so often they are a natural form of pest control themselves 

If you do need to use pesticides as a last resort, it is important that you read the ingredients and instructions on how to use beforehand to ensure that you are using them safely. 

6. Build a ramp for any ponds or pools in your garden 

Although hedgehogs are surprisingly good swimmers, they can become exhausted and drown if they cannot escape the pond or pool easily. 

For this reason, we suggest that you build a ramp around the edge of your pond or to leave a piece of chicken wire at the edge of your poolwhich will act as an escape ladder for the hedgehog. 

Submit your hedgehog sighting 

Once you have made your garden hedgehog-friendly and you do see a hedgehog, we encourage you to record your sighting in our online Hedgehog Hotspot Map at https://www.spikesfood.co.uk/submit-sighting/ which will help us track population levels of hedgehogs moving forward. 

Fill out the form with the date, time, location, photo, plus any other noteworthy information, in order to help educate your neighbours as to where and when they can expect spiky visitors in your area, so that they too can help to do all they can to care.

Hedgehog Sightings During Lockdown

We’re encouraging you to get in involved in our campaign to help record hedgehog sightings, as populations enjoy a resurgence.

Hedgehogs across the UK have used the quiet of the lockdown to indulge in some “noisy lovemaking”, according to experts who are now predicting a boom in hoglets this summer.

With more of us spending time outside and in our gardens, we’re seeing a huge increase in hedgehog sightings as well as many reports of hedgehogs mating.

Britain’s wildlife appears to have benefitted from the UK lockdown, as less cars on the road means there has been a dramatic drop in the number of roadkill accidents.

A recent study from Nottingham Trent University revealed that the mortality rate for hedgehogs has nearly halved as people were urged to stay at home, with data showing that between the last week of March and the first week of April, around 140 hedgehog deaths were recorded, compared with up to 381 for the same period in 2019

Hoglet Baby Boom’

Hedgehog numbers have been in sharp decline for decades, with the last report from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, showing that hedgehog populations in rural areas have halved since 2000. In urban areas, they have fallen by 30 per cent.

However, there is some good news. Much like the anticipated human baby boom in early 2021, we believe the rise in reported hedgehog sightings and mating instances could lead to a hedgehog ‘baby boom’ in June and July, which is when the six-week gestation period typically finishes.

Stay vigilant

This is fantastic news for wildlife lovers everywhere in the UK. However, now that lockdown rules are starting to lift, we’re urging people to stay vigilant to hedgehogs when they’re out and about or in the garden.

If you want to encourage hedgehogs into your garden, putting just a small gap in your garden fence to allow them to get in and out easily or leaving out hedgehog food and water are just two simple ways you can help them survive as habitat loss continues to threaten their existence.

We need your help in ensuring that one of Britain’s best loved animals continues to thrive. As well as making your garden a little more hedgehog-friendly, recording any hedgehog sightings in our online Hedgehog Hotspot map at https://www.spikesfood.co.uk/submit-sighting/ will help us track levels moving forwards.

Fill out the form with the date, time, location, photo, plus any other noteworthy information, in order to help educate your neighbours as to where and when they can expect spiky visitors in your area, so that they too can help to do all they can to care.

Myth: Hedgehogs hibernate all winter. Fact: Hedgehogs will venture out from time to time to top up on food or even move nests! Myth: Hedgehogs need fleas to survive. Fact: This is an old wives tale, not only do they not need fleas to survive, but not all hedgehogs even have fleas. Myth: You should leave milk out for hedgehogs. Fact: Milk can cause diarrhoea in hedgehogs, only fresh water in a shallow bowl should be left for hedgehogs to drink Myth: Hedgehogs are slow moving animals. Fact: Hedgehogs have longer legs than you would expect, and can reach a top speed of 9 km per hour. Myth: Hedgehogs all look the same. Facts: There are 16 different species of hedgehog but only one of those is native to the UK. Myth: Hedgehogs carry fruit on their back. Fact: This was believed in medieval times, but it is not true (although it would be a cool hedgehog superpower)

This week is Hedgehog Awareness Week, which means there’s lot of talk about our favourite animal, the incredible hedgehog!

Hedgehogs have always been a core part of British wildlife, and for centuries people have been fascinated by this small creature that sometimes shows up in our gardens at night. They are very cute, they eat the pesky insects that threaten your plants and they are often vulnerable, so really need people like you and me to care about them.

The local hedgehog is often misunderstood and over the years there have been a number of myths and old wives’ tales surrounding hedgehogs that shape peoples’ understanding of these animals. That is why, here at Spike’s and in partnership with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, we have created this handy infographic to bust those myths and share some interesting facts about our amazing hedgehogs.

Myth: Hedgehogs hibernate all winter. Fact: Hedgehogs will venture out from time to time to top up on food or even move nests! Myth: Hedgehogs need fleas to survive. Fact: This is an old wives tale, not only do they not need fleas to survive, but not all hedgehogs even have fleas. Myth: You should leave milk out for hedgehogs. Fact: Milk can cause diarrhoea in hedgehogs, only fresh water in a shallow bowl should be left for hedgehogs to drink Myth: Hedgehogs are slow moving animals. Fact: Hedgehogs have longer legs than you would expect, and can reach a top speed of 9 km per hour. Myth: Hedgehogs all look the same. Facts: There are 16 different species of hedgehog but only one of those is native to the UK. Myth: Hedgehogs carry fruit on their back. Fact: This was believed in medieval times, but it is not true (although it would be a cool hedgehog superpower)

 

Hedgehog numbers in the UK have plummeted by half over the past 20 years. It is important now, more than ever, for the people of Britain do their part to preserve these special animals. Here at Spike’s, we have been developing nutritional, tasty recipes for hedgehogs since the ’90s! Feed your little garden visitors with their favourite bowl of Spike’s!

The sight of a friendly, cute hedgehog snuffling around the garden on the lookout for something yummy always brings a smile to the face. But what can you feed hedgehogs to keep them coming  back? Look no further than Spike’s Hedgehog Food we have worked hard over the years to provide your spiky garden visitors with the tastiest and most nutritious food possible! But what benefits do your local hoggies gain from our Spike’s Food? Here are just a few…

 

Spike’s Crunchy Dry Food

Your local hedgehogs must get as much nutrition as possible to keep them fit as a fiddle, and that’s what our Spike’s Crunchy Dry Food was made to do! Specially made to cater to a hedgehog’s dietary needs, our Spike’s Crunchy Dry Food is free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and high in fibre. Whether you choose to stock up with a large 2k bag or choose a smaller 650g pack, our yummy hedgehog food is perfect for keeping your local hoggies healthy and happy.

 

Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist

A delicious complementary food for hedgehogs, our Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist is a yummy Hedgehog Hospital approved food that’s filled with all the nutritional goodness your local hogsters need to survive and thrive. Whether served on its own or mixed with some of our other yummy hedgehog foods, our Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist is guaranteed to attract spiky visitors to your garden!

 

Spike’s Meaty Feast

With a new and improved recipe, your local hedgehogs will see more benefits than ever form our scrumptious Spike’s Meaty Feast. Now made with 100% natural ingredients including 70% chicken and pork, this tasty treat is suitable for hedgehogs of all ages, meaning its perfect young autumn juveniles looking to build their strength up. With such yummy flavours and nutritional value, your spiky pals will keep coming back for more and more!

 

Spike’s Insect Crumble

Packed with essential vitamins and minerals and very, very tasty, our Spike’s Insect Crumble is made with a highly nutritious recipe to provide hedgehogs with everything they need. This yummy treat is made from a mix of probiotic pellet, roasted suet granules and black soldier fly larvae that’s high in calcium and rich in omega 3. This is the perfect tasty snack for hedgehogs looking for something a little different.

Behind dogs and cats, hedgehogs might just be the nation’s favourite animal. One need only look at the fact there are currently over 2 million hedgehog videos on YouTube to see that people can’t get enough of these little spiky wonders. That’s why we’ve put together some little known facts to help you brush up on your knowledge and keep you clued up with your hog-obsessed friends.

A group of hedgehogs is called an array

You won’t have much chance to see an array for yourself though; hedgehogs are solitary creatures, and usually only come together to mate.

Hedgehogs rely on their hearing and sense of smell

Due to their poor eyesight, hedgehogs depend on their hearing and sense of smell during the daytime when they’re out and about. Because of their nocturnal lifestyle, a hedgehog’s eyesight works better in the dark.

Hedgehogs are illegal as pets in certain American states

Because they qualify as wild animals in some areas, many US states and cities ban people from keeping hedgehogs domestically. This includes New York, Washington, California, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. While they are allowed to be kept as pets in some areas, you need a permit to own a hedgehog. And though it is legal to keep a hedgehog as a pet in the UK, it is generally frowned upon due to their natural inclination toward living in the wild and their survival needs.

Where the name “hedgehog” comes from…

The “hedge” part of the name comes from their preferred habitat of garden hedges. The hog part comes from the pig-like noises they make.

…And what happened to their old name

Before they had their adorable name of today, our spiky friends were referred to as urchins during the Middle Ages. Once they gained their new name, their old one was then used for sea urchins. However, baby hedgehogs, or “hoglets”, are still sometimes referred to as urchins.

Hedgehogs used to be the focus of Groundhog Day

The yearly tradition originally began in Germany and was brought to America by settlers. But because hedgehogs aren’t indigenous to America and hadn’t been introduced to the ecosystem yet, they had to go for the next best thing for their weather predictions, which was a groundhog.

The idea hedgehogs gather food with their spikes is a myth

This idea started when medieval bestiaries and texts began showing hedgehogs gathering food with their spikes, and the image has stuck ever since. However, this is inaccurate, as they usually eat food that they come across as soon as they find it to help build up their weight.

The earliest known hedgehog lived around 58 million years ago

The Litoestes, the ancestor of the modern-day hedgehog, lived during the Palaeocene period and is the earliest member of the hedgehog family discovered so far. The smallest hedgehog in history, the Silvacola Acares, arrived sometime after, as it lived in northern British Columbia 52 million years ago. It was about 2 inches long.

They have an odd practice

When hedgehogs come across toxic substances like poisonous plants, they enact a routine called “anointing”, where they lick the substance until they form frothy saliva, which they then rub on their skin and spines. No one’s exactly sure why they do this; one possibility is that they make themselves taste less palatable to predators, while another is that it works as a kind of olfactory camouflage.

People used to think hedgehogs were witches in disguise

Because people used to see hedgehogs as harbingers of doom in the Middle Ages, this then led to people believing they were witches in disguise during the witch-hunting days. It also led to Shakespeare referencing them in his plays, usually as an insult. You can find the use of hedgehogs in his plays Richard III, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.

Bonfire Night may be a fun night for us, but it is one of the biggest risks of the year for hedgehogs. As hedgehogs continue to search for the most secure and safe place for them to hibernate through the winter, they may come across a bonfire and think this is a safe hibernation spot. That’s why we’ve put together a few steps for you to take to help keep your local hogs safe on Bonfire Night.

 

Build your bonfire as close to the celebration as possible

Even though it may be more convenient for you to build your bonfire earlier in the day or even the day before, this will give hedgehogs more time to find their way into the pile of wood and make themselves comfortable. It also means there is more of a risk of more than one hedgehog finding their way into the bonfire. That’s why it’s much safer for you to build your bonfire as close to the start of the evening’s celebrations as possible, giving your local hedgehogs less time to get in the pile.

 

Regularly check your bonfire

As hedgehogs will be looking for the safest, most secure spots possible for hibernation, they will be burrowing themselves into your bonfire as much as possible. That’s why it’s important that you regularly check your bonfire for any hedgehogs who may have gotten in. As hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, make sure to check the pile by gently lifting pieces of the wood section by section, making sure not to disturb the hedgehogs too much. You should use a blunt object like a pole to lift the pieces of wood, as using something sharper or harder like a spade or fork could accidentally harm the hedgehog.

If you do find a hedgehog, place it in a high-sided cardboard box with plenty of towelling. Make sure there are air holes in the box before securely placing the lid on the box, as hedgehogs are gifted climbers. Put the box in a safe place away from the bonfire. Once the celebrations are over and the bonfire is completely dampened, you can release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs far away from the remains of the bonfire.

 

Put up chicken wire around the bonfire

No matter how careful and vigilant you are, there’s always a chance of a hedgehog slipping past your notice and getting into your bonfire. That’s why it’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure they can’t get to the pile. You can do this by putting chicken wire around the bonfire to keep hedgehogs out. The wire should be held in place with stakes, with the wire sloping outward at an angle to prevent hedgehogs climbing the wire.

 

Remove all litter and firework debris

It’s a guarantee that there will be a lot of mess after the celebrations are over. With people gathering around to watch the bonfire, there will be litter gathering around the area that could be harmful to not only hedgehogs, but all local wildlife if not properly disposed of. There will also be a lot of firework debris on the nearby grounds that can be harmful too. That’s why it is essential that you properly dispose of litter around the area as soon as the celebrations have finished.