Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Hedgehogs in June • Kay Bullen BHPS

This is the start of the breeding season and hoglets will be starting to arrive. You may already have seen the hedgehogs’ courtship with the huffing sounds and the male circling the female. Until she is ready to mate she will keep facing the male, so he will have to keep circling to try to approach from the rear.

If successful, after about 32 days 4-5 hoglets will be born. They’re naked, so no fur or prickles and they are deaf and blind as well. Within a few hours their first set of prickles push through, they are white and in straight lines down the back. The brown prickles start to appear after around 36 hours but the fur takes a little longer. Eyes open at around 14 days with the ears opening a few days later.

The babies would not normally leave the nest, to forage with mum, until they are about 4 weeks old and at this stage they are miniatures of their mother. Hoglets that appear before they are 4 weeks old are often orphans and they need help. Signs that hoglets are in trouble include, being out in the day, being lethargic and wobbling, squeaking loudly, flies being attracted to them. They soon become hypothermic, dehydrated and the flies will lay eggs on them that hatch into maggots.  Even the older ones will struggle if something has happened to mum.  uick action can save their lives. If you have any doubts about their wellbeing give the BHPS a call (01584 890801) or contact a local hedgehog rescue.

Until you’re able to contact someone put the hoglet(s) indoors on a covered, hand hot, hot water bottle (replace water as it cools). Put this in a high sided box and place a towel over them to keep in the warmth and give some security. Very small hoglets with their eyes still closed will be not able to take solids; for bigger hoglets you could mix some water with mashed up meat-based cat food to make it sloppy, don’t try to force feed them. Hand rearing is very complex, so they should be passed to a hedgehog rehabilitator as soon as possible.

If you only find one hoglet do bear in mind there could be others. Check your garden for more. If you’ve found the hoglet(s) on a walk, try to repeat that walk over the next 4-5 days or longer if possible to keep an eye out for any siblings that may also be in trouble.

If you are concerned about any hoglets or adult hedgehogs contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Hedgehogs in May • Kay Bullen BHPS

All the hedgehogs should be awake from their hibernation now.  The early risers may also be pregnant so now is a good time to think about making our gardens safer for them.
If you are setting traps put them somewhere where they cannot be reached by hedgehogs.   If you are using poisons again keep them out of reach of hedgehogs and any other animals, wild and domestic.  Many people do not realise that they have a legal duty to do their best to stop animals other than those targeted from accessing traps or poisons. The following is taken from an official Government web site.

Protecting other wildlife from harm you must protect other animals from traps or poison you put down for pests by:

  • placing lethal traps under cover or so that other animals and birds aren’t caught
  • preventing wildlife from eating poison you’ve put down

Many people use chemicals in the garden, some will be more wildlife friendly than others and there are various websites about organic gardening.  However if you feel you must use chemicals in the garden, especially if you have resident (and possibly pregnant) hedgehogs around here are a few tips.

Take time to read the instructions, when did you last read the suggested “dose” for the slug pellets you are planning to use. Try to restrict access to the chemicals, perhaps put pellets under a slate or old tile or a piece of old carpet and collect the dead slugs and snails up in the morning.  Please remember that killing slugs and snails reduces the amount of natural food in your garden for hedgehogs and some birds.

If applying a liquid application for your lawn perhaps use in the morning so it is dry by the time hedgehogs are out and about. Don’t leave any puddles of chemicals around that wildlife may drink or bathe in.  If possible cover the area treated to restrict access to other wildlife, you could perhaps use some carrot fly netting that allows light and water through but not animals. 

If you use ant powder or similar apply sparingly and wash it away before the evening – if a hedgehogs sniffs the powder it may be in serious trouble.

It is safer for you, your family, pets and wildlife to use non-chemical methods of pest and weed control where possible and appropriate, and when using approved humane traps check them regularly.

Hedgehog Awareness Week runs from 6thto 12thMay this year and is a perfect time to remind friends and neighbours to take care of hedgehogs when gardening you can find out more about the week on social media using #hedgehogweek or at the BHPS website.

If you are concerned about any hedgehogs you should see contact your local hedgehog rescue or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (01584 890801), they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact.