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:
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.
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.
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.