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Caring for Injured, Sick, or Orphaned Hedgehogs | A Guide to Making a Difference!

Updated: Jul 13, 2023


A brown hedgehog held in a gloved hand

Hedgehogs, despite their resilient appearance, are prone to various illnesses and injuries due to a combination of factors. One common cause is poor nutrition. Depleted natural food sources can result in malnourishment due to consuming a diet lacking in essential nutrients this can lead to weakened immune system, making them susceptible to infections. Potential hazards, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, garden chemicals, or equipment, can also harm hedgehogs.


Additionally, encounters with predators or road accidents frequently result in injuries like fractures or lacerations. Parasites, including ticks, fleas, and mites, can infest hedgehogs and cause discomfort or disease. Furthermore, stress, inadequate housing conditions, or improper handling can negatively impact their health. Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and a safe environment are crucial for treating illness and injury in hedgehogs.


Encountering an injured, sick, or orphaned hedgehog can be a distressing experience. These charming creatures play an essential role in our ecosystem, and when they need our help, it's crucial to act promptly and responsibly. In this blog post, we'll provide you with a step-by-step guide on what to do if you find an injured hedgehog, along with valuable information about Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital and our efforts in hedgehog rehabilitation.


Assess the Situation


Upon discovering a hedgehog casualty, it's important to first assess the situation to ensure your safety and the hedgehog's well-being. If the hedgehog appears displaying any of the following signs of distress, it's best to proceed with the care and follow advice. Approach cautiously, avoiding sudden movements or loud noises that may startle them.


Things to look out for:

  • A hedgehog that is out during the daytime

  • An obvious injury such as a wound, or being hit by a car

  • Limping or dragging a leg

  • An attack by dogs or predators


  • It appears ‘wobbly’ and / or weak

  • It seems to be circling constantly

  • It shows signs of large numbers of parasites, eg 15 or more ticks

  • It has a persistent cough or sounds like rattley breathing

  • It its likely the hedgehog has been trapped for a day or more

  • If you find what appears to be an orphaned baby

  • If you find a very small hedgehog out during the winter

To prevent further injury or stress, carefully place the hedgehog in a secure and well-ventilated container. Wear gloves or use a towel to handle the hedgehog, as they have spines that can be sharp. A plastic box or carrier with air holes, lined with a towel or newspaper, can provide a suitable temporary habitat for the hedgehog.


Provide a Warm and Quiet Environment


Hedgehogs require a warm and calm environment, especially if they are sick or orphaned. Place the container in a quiet and secluded area of your home, away from direct sunlight and drafts. You can provide warmth by using a heat pad or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, ensuring it is not too hot or in direct contact with the hedgehog.


 A brown hedgehog in grass

Offer Food and Water


A dehydrated or weak hedgehog may require rehydration. Provide a shallow dish of fresh water, making sure it is easily accessible but shallow enough to prevent drowning. Avoid offering cow's milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Instead, specialized hedgehog food, moist cat or dog food, or wet cat food can be suitable options.


Contact a Wildlife Rescue Centre


To give the hedgehog the best chance of recovery, it's essential to seek professional assistance. Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital is a renowned wildlife rehabilitation hospital in West Sussex dedicated to the care and conservation of injured hedgehogs and other wildlife species. We have experienced staff and volunteers who are well-equipped to handle hedgehog emergencies and ensure the animals receive the necessary care and attention they deserve to get them fit for release.


Contact us or a wildlife rehabilitation hospital near you immediately for guidance and to arrange the hedgehog's transfer to a facility.


 A brown hedgehog held in a blue surgical gloved hand

Follow Expert Advice


Upon contacting Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital or a local wildlife rescue centre, they will provide specific instructions tailored to the situation. They may ask you to transport the hedgehog to their facility or arrange for a volunteer to collect it from you. Always follow their advice meticulously to maximise the hedgehog's chances of recovery.


Encountering an injured, sick, or orphaned hedgehog can be a challenging experience, but taking immediate action and seeking professional help can make a significant difference in their lives. Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, with their expertise and dedication, plays a crucial role in rehabilitating hedgehogs and other wildlife species.


By following the steps outlined in this guide and reaching out to wildlife rescue centres like Brent Lodge, you can contribute to the well-being and conservation of these remarkable creatures.


2 images. One image of a family of hedgehogs, One image a hedgehog on grass

Remember, responsible action and timely intervention can help ensure a brighter future for hedgehogs and foster a harmonious relationship between humans and wildlife.

References:

  1. Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital: https://www.brentlodge.org/hedgehogs

  2. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA): https://www.rspca.org.uk/

Note: This blog post provides general guidelines. Always consult with local wildlife rescue centres or professionals for specific advice tailored to your region.


By Asha Park

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