Thursday, 21 September 2017

Hedgehogs in October by Kay Bullen (BHPS Trustee)

Time is getting on and just as we might prepare early for Christmas so the hedgehogs must prepare to hibernation. When birds are flying to warmer climates, squirrels and Jays are building up food stores, hedgehogs are also building up their food stores; but theirs will be internal fat. One type of fat to live off and another one to kick start their waking processes.

This extra fat must be sufficient to see them through the whole of the winter. If they do not have enough fat stored they will not be able to survive the winter and may have to delay going into hibernation. However, as the weather gets colder so their natural food will disappear, this produces a vicious circle, they are searching for more food and that food is less abundant.

This is why extra food can be a life saver. A dry nest box in which to make their hibernation nest would be a bonus.  Provided they have plenty of food and a dry place to sleep in, they can hibernate later or may even survive the winter without hibernating.  It is not the cold weather that kills them rather the lack of food it brings.  Having said that if their nest is in a cold damp environment and their bedding is damp then they will struggle against hypothermia. The young, weak, sick and elderly hedgehogs will be the most vulnerable.

A dish of water should also be provided especially if you are feeding them dry foods. If the food and water can be place inside a feeding station this would give them a certain protection from the frosts and would also keep the hedgehog dry when it is feeding in the rain or snow.

For more information about Autumn Juveniles visit the BHPS website and view the leaflet section for the “Autumn Juvenile” leaflet.  If you need advice about a particular hedgehog it would be helpful if you could weigh it before calling, as this helps us to give the most appropriate advice.


If you are concerned about your local visiting hedgehog contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact.  Contact them on 01584 890801 or for general advice visit their web site.   

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Hedgehogs in June by British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Just under two weeks old - 05/06/17
This is the time of year when we expect most of the first litters of hoglets to be born.  They are going to be very vulnerable.  If anything happens to mum in the first 7-8 weeks then these hoglets are unlikely to survive without help.  They do not come out of the nest to start foraging with mum until they are 4 weeks old.  So any out of the nest under this age are likely to be abandoned and they are coming out in desperation calling for their mother. 

Should you find a dead adult in your neighbourhood, and it is safe to do so, try to determine whether it is a male or female.  They are very similar to dogs and bitches so are easy to sex if they have not been too badly damaged.  The males do not contribute to the rearing of the hoglets so only if it is a female could there be a risk of any hoglets being orphaned.

If you have a nest in your garden and are concerned the mum may have been killed listen for high pitched squeaks and perhaps place a small screwed up piece of paper in the entrance to the nest, this will be pushed aside as any hedgehog exits the nest.  It is best not to disturb the nest unless you are certain the mum will not be returning.  If you are wrong and the nest is occupied and you have pulled it apart the mother may abandon her babies, or even kill them.

If you accidently disturb a nest try to restore it quickly and without too much fuss.  Check with the screwed up piece of paper to see whether mum is returning, they all react differently, some move the babies over several days, a few have been known to kill them whilst other just abandon them.  If the nest is in a place where it cannot be left catch the mother before the babies as she will be the most mobile.  Place her in high sided box with some of the bedding from the nest and then slip her babies in with her.  Contact the BHPS to find a local contact who can advise and if necessary take in the family.  Do not release them somewhere yourself as mum is very likely to abandon them, given the amount of disturbance she has endured.

With any hedgehog in trouble the sooner it is rescued the more chance there is that it will survive.  Hoglets in trouble will be out in the day (or perhaps without mum at night), squeaking, lying in the open (perhaps several huddled together), flies buzzing around them and even large birds taking an interest with them.


If you are concerned about your local visiting hedgehog, need advice or find an orphaned, sick or injured hedgehog contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator you can contact.  Contact them on 01584 890801 or for general advice visit their web site.   

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Hedgehog Heros

There are some vets who simply don't treat wildlife. There are some who would give a check over, find a major injury and would put to sleep. There are others who would Xray but upon seeing the injury in the Xray below would put to sleep. There are others who will offer to remove the leg but will expect to be compensated for their expertise. I understand this, they're a business. Then there are vets who go above and beyond. Lucky for this little hog (now known as Patricia) was taken to Cheshunt Medivets who as you can see are willing to do what ever it takes.


What follows are some amazing photographs of Patricia undergoing a long and tricky operation which was carried out by the brilliant Lindsay and Patricia.








Patricia is still in the care of Cheshunt Medivet. I've been told she's doing well and have been promised to be kept up-to-date with her progress. So fingers crossed she'll make a full recovery.

Please note: I've been given permission to share these photographs. The copyright remains with Cheshunt Medivets - so please respect their copyright and do not copy from this blog and use for your own purposes  However please feel free to share the link to this blog, so everyone can see just how fab the staff at Cheshunt Medivets are. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

You Learn Something New...

Although I've been caring for hedgehogs for almost 25 years I'm always learning new things and so are the wonderful vets that provide their expertise. Yesterday was one such day. A hedgehog had been found in a garden, wandering around during the day screaming. Now if you ever hear a hedgehog scream it's not something you can quickly forget. Yes, hedgehogs do make noises but you know there is something seriously wrong when you hear this scream.

Thankfully the lady who found him contacted me and immediately took to a local vet. The hedgehog was then taken to Helen Pringle (A120, Little Hadham Medivet). On first examination all that could be found were two small bite wounds. The issue with bite wounds is you never know what damage they may have done inside, so Helen decided to X-ray. Sadly within a very short period of time the hedgehogs condition deteriorated rapidly, so it was decided the kindest action would be to euthanise.

Now in typical Helen fashion she decided to do an autopsy. It was discovered the hedgehog had a very large internal abscess and a lot of his muscle had died (photographs were taken but they are too graphic to put up). Helen then decided to check the X-rays again and this time also check them against the X-rays of a healthy hedgehog.

So here's what a healthy hedgehog looks like inside.

Side view of a healthy hedgehog


Top view of a healthy hedgehog

As Helen looked at the X-rays side by side she noticed a small difference, but one that will make a big difference toin helping her come to a more accurate diagnosis.

Very, very unwell hedgehog 

What is that small difference? 

Well you have to look really closely to see that there is a line running between the spine and the skin, this is the muscle that helps a hedgehog roll up. On the healthy hedgehog you can see this clearly and constantly around the entire body of hedgehog. However on the very, very unwell hedgehog you can see the line which then disappears (becomes fuzzy). Where it disappears was exactly where the abscess and the dead muscle was (see the close-up below). 

The muscle can clearly be seen just above the red line
then is becomes fuzzy and disappears  

Now Helen is aware of this indicator she can look out for it and can use it to help fathom out what is happening inside. It will also help us decide when it's best to fight and when it is best to do the kindest, but hardest thing.

A call to hedgehog carers:
Please do share this blog post with your vet. It would be great to have Helen's work shared, so the hedgehogs we all care for have a better chance of survival. 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Hedgehogs in May by Kay Bullen - BHPS

Sadly not all have had a good winter - this is Percy
who is very underweight
Most of the hedgehogs out and about now will hopefully be in good condition and will have replaced any weight losses from their hibernation.

So the next step in the hedgehog calendar is the breeding season. Courtship is a noisy affair with lots of huffing and puffing and circling around (the male circles the female). Once completed the pair will part company and perhaps never meet again. After a pregnancy of around 32 days 4-5 hoglet will be born in a nursery nest.

It is very important, especially at this time of year, that hedgehog nests are not disturbed.  Disturbance may cause the females to abandon or even kill their hoglets. Nursery nests can be almost anywhere, under an old shed, under clumps of garden plants, even under old rugs or polythene used as a weed suppressor. So if you know you have a hedgehog that is a regular visitors then it is likely to be a female rather than a nomadic male. In which case do take care and perhaps watch at night to see where she is coming from so you have a rough idea of where the nest may be.

Female hedgehogs are often like clockwork, they appear from roughly the same direction at around the same time each night. She may miss a few nights after giving birth preferring to stay with her hoglets night and day.

Sometimes females are seen in the early morning gathering bedding, this could well be a female about to give birth, so again note where she is heading so you know the location of her nest. Perhaps have a word with a neighbour if it appears the nest may be next door. This depends on the neighbour – they are not all wildlife friendly so use your judgement. This is one of the few times when healthy hedgehogs are seen in the day and when they do not need rescuing. They will be busy and moving with purpose - so enjoy the opportunity to observe, whilst not intruding.


If you need advice or find a sick or injured hedgehog contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact. Contact them on 01584 890801 or for general advice visit their website