This information is designed to give you, the carer, a basic guide to looking after your hedgehog, from initial capture to release back into the wild. Basic information will also be given on first aid and what to do if?
For long-stay animals, such as autumn orphans or long-term sick you will need a house box (about the size of a crisp or photocopy paper box, preferably with a lid) and a living quarters area Large cardboard boxes of the type that would house a TV or a fridge are ideal. Fill the house box with either shredded newspaper or straw/hay with the base lined with a magazine. Cut in the box an oval hole in which the hedgehog can access the living quarters. The living quarters should be lined with newspaper with food and fresh water available, even during hibernation.
To hibernate successfully, the hedgehog must be 600g in weight. If the hedgehog is lighter than this contact a committee member and immediately bring the hedgehog indoors. Wake the animal up gradually, too quick and you could kill the hedgehog. When coming out of hibernation they may appear drunk. If the symptoms persist for more than one evening - call your contact. To save on tinned food, place Science Diet only in the living area during hibernation.
They snore! Stroke their prickles and they will react to you and make loud snoring noises.
Feed the hedgehog on approximately 1/2 tin of cat food daily. Other items of food that could give variety are: crisps, chicken, turkey, cornflakes, Science Diet, Prosecto (dried insects) and mealworms. They are carnivores, so are not very keen on fruit and vegetables. Once a week they should be given a pinch of SA37, which is a vitamin compound.
Science Diet is very important to the hedgehogs diet. It provides necessary vitamins and an opportunity for the hedgehog to reduce limescale on the teeth by chewing the hard pellets.
Release, usually after Easter. The weather is far too unpredictable before this time. If the weather is decidedly cold, then you may need to wait until the end of April. A good guide is to release approximately a month after the wild hogs appear. You must remember that your hedgehog is not used to the food sources in the area and therefore you need to ensure that food is readily available. Look for the food sources given below as an indication.
To prepare for release ensure the hedgehog is 600g or more in weight. Introduce the animal to wild food, such as worms, beetles, slugs, earwigs, caterpillars before release. Harden the animal off by providing an outside pen and then allow the hedgehog to go. Continue to place food and water in the area to help the hedgehog adapt to the new environment. Studies have shown that often they do not return, don't worry about this as we now have proof that they adapt better into the wild than we at first believed.
Place the animal in a box in a warm, quiet place with scrunched up strips of newspaper to aid warmth. Do not encourage children, or adults, to interfere with the animal. Please remember that it is wild and is already in shock. Contact your committee member or a local vet. Any hedgehog found during the day has either been disturbed or is seriously ill.
If you find a small 'baby' hedgehog wandering around during the day, place the animal in a warm box. If it squawks loudly, its Hungary. Feed with warm sugared water in a syringe. Call a vet for further help.
Green droppings - can be the cleaning of the stomach before hibernation or enteritis.
Not eating - warm up food or give very smelly pilchards to encourage to eat.
Weakness/Wobbling - could be anything - take to a vet immediately.