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.