Keywords: faq pet hedgehogs
Last-modified: 20 October 2008
HEDGEHOG FAQ (part 7 of 7) -- WILD HEDGEHOGS
Compiled and edited by Brian MacNamara (email@example.com)
Additions, corrections, and suggestions for this file are welcomed.
This document is copyright 2008 by Brian MacNamara. See section [0.6]
for authorship information and redistribution rights. In short, you
can give it away, but you can't charge for it.
The basic Hedgehog FAQ has seven parts, all of which should be available
from wherever you obtained this one. A complete table of contents for
all seven parts is given below.
Please note: While my knowledge of hedgehogs has grown (far beyond my
wildest expectations when I began the FAQ), my knowledge is still quite
limited, especially in areas of health care. I did not write, or verify,
all the information in this FAQ. I have done my best to include only
accurate and useful information, but I cannot guarantee the correctness
of what is contained in this FAQ, regardless of the source, or even that
it will not be harmful to you or your hedgehog in some way. For advice
from an expert, I recommend you consult the books listed in part 2 [2.1],
or, especially in the case of a suspected medical problem, a veterinarian
who is familiar with hedgehogs.
Subject: CONTENTS OF THIS FILE
11. *** Finding Information ***
<11.1> Intro to wild hedgehogs
<11.2> What hedgehog books are there?
<11.3> Is there information available on-line?
<11.4> Wild Hedgehog Organizations
<11.5> Miscellaneous Hedgehog stuff and sources
12. *** Care and Helping ***
<12.1> The hedgehog calendar
<12.2> Caring for visiting hedgehogs
<12.3> Feeding and caring for orphan baby hedgehogs
<12.4> Hedgehog housing
<12.5> Hedgehogizing your garden
<12.6> Wild hedgehog health
<12.7> Dangers to wild hedgehogs
<12.8> Watching out for hibernating hedgehogs
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
11. *** Finding Information ***
Subject: <11.1> Intro to wild hedgehogs
This FAQ originally started out (and is still largely oriented at) pet
hedgehogs. So why the emphasis on their wild cousins? Hedgehogs enjoy a
very unique niche in that they seem to inspire people to like them (or in
many cases, fall head over heels in love with them) and want to help them
out, or at least want to enjoy the company of hedgehogs in and around them.
Our views of hedgehogs in the wild transcend what we normally feel for most
`wild' animals that we encounter. How many animals do we go to such great
lengths to encourage to come into our gardens and backyards for a visit? How
many wild animals get the same level of helping hand, with food being put out
specifically for them? And how many animals have hospitals named just for
them? (I realize these kind hospitals do not limit themselves to treating
How many of us can resist the cute little face of hedgehog -- something that
just reaches out to our hearts for help. One only has to look at the number
and variety of organizations that are trying to help out hedgehogs in need to
see how great the interest is. This makes it all the more amazing that
hedgehogs were hunted and persecuted only a few decades ago, as being pests.
Why hedgehogs inspire so much human compassion is often very hard to pin
down. The fact that they do, and that this desire to help seems to be so
very widespread, is nothing short of impressive. Even so, our prickly little
friends face what is still often a losing battle, in the face of human
encroachment, and the dangers it often brings with it.
Fortunately, everyone who lives where wild hedgehogs can be found, can take
part in helping out our little friends. This can vary from simply making
some of the everyday throwaway items a bit safer before being tossed out, to
adapting a garden area to be attractive to hedgehogs, or even helping out
with one of the hedgehog help/rescue organizations. No special skills are
needed to help out -- just a love of hedgehogs.
Of course, there are those who simply collect hedgehog memorabilia
(hedgehogabilia) as their way of showing their interest in hedgehogs. This
is how I came by my love (well, addiction is probably more accurate) for
hedgehogs, and usually expands to well beyond the simple act of collecting.
This part of the FAQ is intended to cover as much as I can add on where to
get involved and how to help out with wild hedgehogs. The number of people
I've heard from who are trying to help out these little friends in need is
truly amazing and encouraging. I hope that the tips and suggestions here,
will help others who find themselves in the position of helping a hedgehog.
Subject: <11.2> What hedgehog books are there?
Hedgehog popularity throughout much of Europe has exploded, and continues to
grow. Even so, the number of good books is still relatively limited, and the
extent of research is also much less than one might expect. The good news is
that there are excellent books out there, and that more do keep appearing.
One of the best books I've found, for a true scientific view of all types of
by Nigel Reeve
T & A D Poyser Ltd.
24-28 Oval Road
London NW1 7DX
In published form, this book is probably the best source of true, scientific
information on all types of hedgehogs. Beyond this you probably need to read
scientific papers (30 pages of references to which are at the back of this
book, which gives you some idea as to Dr. Reeve's efforts at research).
While this book does focus primarily on hedgehogs in the wild, it does
provide some very useful insights into what makes our little friends tick. I
find myself turning more and more to this book, all the time -- especially
when someone asks me a detailed question. Unlike many scientific books, this
one shows the author had a real interest and excitement in his chosen topic
of research, rather than limiting himself to dry phrasing, an entertaining
sense of humour and wit shows through.
The book can be hard to come by in North America (the publisher does not
import it to N.A.), but it is available through the Exclusively Hedgehogs
catalog [2.8], and the Spike and Friends Catalog [2.8]. In Europe, your
local bookseller can likely order it for you from the information, above.
For those looking for an excellent all round book on caring for hedgehogs,
and one with an absolute wealth of medical information, including homeopathic
treatments, most of which can apply to both European and African Pigmy
hedgehogs, the following book is available:
The Natural Hedgehog
by Lenni Sykes with Jane Durrant
Gaia Books Ltd.
66 Charlotte St.
London W1P 1LR
Produced by the folks at the Welsh Hedgehog Hospital (WHH) [11.4], this book
is now available in a softcover form, directly from them for a reasonable fee
(see [11.4] for contact information), and provides an excellent source for
anyone wanting to give hedgehogs a helping hand.
Katherine Long has passed along word of another book that is full of
interesting hedgehog information, although it can be somewhat hard to get in
North America. Here is the bibliographic info:
Stocker, Les. The Complete Hedgehog. (Illus.) 128 p. 09/1994.
Paper. $19.95. ISBN 0-7011-3272-8, Chatto & Windus UK).
[The price, above, was valid as of 1997 -- Ed.]
This book concentrates on European hedgehogs, but certainly contains
relevant information on hedgehogs in general.
As a point of interest, Les Stocker is the founder of St. Tiggywinkle's
Another book, this time suggested by Bill Corner, is:
Hedgehogs, by Pat Morris.
Published by: Whittet Books. 1983.
[This] is a book by a researcher who has spent his post-doctorate
research studying Hedgehog behavior. Not as comprehensive as [the
above one -- Les Stocker's], but a good read.
-- Bill Corner
One more for good measure. This one is a manual, likely intended for use
primarily by veterinarians, and likely refers primarily to European
hedgehogs, and is therefore almost certainly very technical in nature.
In looking for chinchilla information, I ran across a book that has
hedgehog health information. Manual of Exotic Pets, written by the
British Small Animal Veterinary Association, Kingsley House, Church
Lane, Shurdington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51 5TQ.
Peter Captijn, has sent along the following (seemingly endless) list of books
on hedgehogs: [Note: prices were valid as of approx. 1996 -- Ed.]
all EUROPEAN (Erinaceaous europaeus), never pet-owners books:
- The hedgehog and friends, more tales from St. Tiggywinkles
by Les Stocker, Chatto & Windus, London, 1990, ISBN 0 7011
3655 3, 8.99 UK pounds.
I name this because it is NOT a hedgehog book. It's a book
relating the work Les Stocker does in his animal care
center. Although it has a few pages about hedgehogs, nice
photos and nice pencil drawings, I think you should leave
it unless you have money to burn.
In the literature list of Shire Natural History's book on
hedgehogs (see below) the following books are mentioned:
- The hedgehog by M. Burton Andre Deutsch 1969. Reprinted
as a Corgi `Survival' paperback. Now out of print but often
available through local libraries.
- Hedgehogs by K. Herter, Phoenix House 1969. Now out of
print but often available through local libraries.
Various leaflets, books, hedgehog toys and other items are
available from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society,
Knowbury, Shropshire. [11.4]
Further information on hedgehogs and other mammals is
available from the Mammal Society Conservation Officer,
Zoology Dept., Woodland Road, Avon BS8 1UG.
Shire Natural History has published a condensed (24 pages)
booklet based on P.A. Morris' and Les Stocker's work. It's very
colorful, with lots of (very nice) photos and surprisingly
good information, and it is CHEAP. It's probably the best
gift for people who want to be introduced to hedgehogs:
- The hedgehog, P.A. Morris, Shire Natural History,
ISBN 0 85263 958 9, 1.95 UK pounds, reprinted last in 1992.
(Would be about $2.50 without shipment.)
- Hedgehogs by Maxwell Knight, a Sunday times book
publication, Animals of Britain No. 3 edited by L. Harrison
Matthews, 24 pages, 1962. Almost no information at all,
advises to give bread and milk (for crying out loud) but has
one nice sentence: `I do not favor keeping hedgehogs in any
kind of cage - they are not suited to these conditions and
seldom thrive.' He advises `semi-captivity' meaning trying
to lure and keep them in your garden by providing suitable
housing and conditions.
I have more books about hedgehogs, but these are original
GERMAN books, translated to DUTCH, and probably not
available in English. I will list them because the FAQ is
read all over the world.
- Igel in Pension by Claudia Bestajovsky, Franckh'sche
Verlagshandlung, W. Keller & Co., Stuttgart, 1975
published in Holland as: Egel te gast, Thieme-Zutphen,
ISBN 90 03 94990 5, 1975. This book is about caring for
late autumn hedgehogs who are too small to survive the winter,
it's based on her own experience in helping 50+ hedgehogs.
- Geliebtes Stacheltier by Christl Poduschka, Landbuch-
Verlag GmbH, Hannover, Germany, 1972. Published in Holland
as: Onze eigen egel, Nijgh & Van Ditmar, Den Haag, 1974,
ISBN 90 236 3334 2. Tales about their garden-hedgehogs and
quite some information about feeding and caring of them.
- Igel als Wintergaste by Helga Fritzsche, Grafe und Unzer
GmbH, Munchen. Published in Holland as: Egels, Elsevier, 1981,
ISBN 90 10 03734 7. Very good book about the medical care
hedgehogs need, very thorough on diseases, actually very good in
everything. Has read Poduschka and improves on her.
Finally, while the following doesn't deal directly with live hedgehogs, it
may well be of interest to us hedgehog addicts (thanks again Katherine for
There is a book by the British Hedgehog Society Staff called
Prickly Poems. (Illus.) 64p. Juv (gr 3-5) 03/1993.
$18.95 (ISBN 0-09-176379-7, Hutchinson UK). Trafalgar Square.
[The price, above, was valid as of 1997 -- Ed.]
Subject: <11.3> Is there information available on-line?
The Usenet newsgroups rec.pets, alt.fan.hedgehog, and alt.pets.hedgehogs all
carry discussions of wild, as well as pet hedgehogs (in spite of some of the
In addition to the newsgroups, the main hedgehog mailing list has a number of
European members and sports frequent discussions of European hedgehogs and
helping them out.
Both an individual message version and a digest version of the list are
You can join the regular (individual message version of the) hedgehog
mailing list, by sending email to the address:
with the words ``subscribe hedgehog-mail <your email address>'' (without the
double quotes, and with your own, full, email address in place of the <your
email address>) in the body of the message (not the subject line, though
putting it there too will be harmless).
You can join the digest version of the hedgehog mailing list, by sending
email to the address:
with the words ``set digest hedgehog-mail <your email address>'' (without the
double quotes, and with your own, full, email address in place of the <your
email address>) in the body of the message (not the subject line, though
putting it there too will be harmless).
Sending a message to the list is done by sending mail to the following
address after you are subscribed:
For more information about the list and commands, you can send a message to:
with the word ``help'' without the double quotes, in the body of the message.
In the event that you ever want to unsubscribe from either list, simply send
a message to the ``majordomo'' address (as if you were subscribing) but use
the words ``unsubscribe hedgehog-mail <your email address>'' (exactly like
subscribing to the regular list but using the word ``unsubscribe'') in the
text. This will unsubscribe you from whichever version of the list you
were subscribed to.
My own European hedgehog webpage can also act as a starting point for finding
more hedgehog information:
The Hedgehog Helpline is now online, and has one of the best websites I've
seen for information on all aspects of European hedgehogs.
You can also reach them via email at: hedgehgREMOVE_TO_SEND@dircon.co.uk -- my
thanks to Kay at the Hedgehog Helpline for letting me know about their web
site, and for other information.
Another contender for the best online resource, for people interested in wild
hedgehogs is the Welsh Hedgehog Hospital (WHH):
These are the folks behind the book _The_Natural_Hedgehog_ and have done an
exceptional job of putting great information on all aspects of helping
hedgehogs on their web site.
Another excellent resource is the Cleveland Hedgehog Preservation Society
(CHPS) [11.4] web site at:
Thanks to Donald Martin for the update, and my apolgies for misplacing the
message along the way.
This site contains an excellent overview of what to do if you encounter a
hedgehog needing assistance, among other very useful information.
Subject: <11.4> Wild Hedgehog Organizations
There are numerous European hedgehog organizations that strive to help out
hedgehogs, usually thanks only to volunteer help and donations.
One of the first to come into being was the British Hedgehog Preservation
Society (BHPS), run by Major Adrian Cole, information about it was sent to me
courtesy of Bill Corner, Vanessa Purvis, and Seabury Salmon:
I thought I would let you know that here in the UK there exists a
society called ``the British Hedgehog Preservation Society''.
Their address - in case you want some more info! - is:
-- Bill Corner
Tel: 44 1584 890801 or 890287.
Tom Weston sent around the following information about another organization
dedicated to rescuing and helping hedgehogs:
Having looked after hedgehogs for a number of years, Janet Peto founded
Hedgehog Welfare officially in December 1993. It is a small rescue
centre, based in Misterton [U.K.], taking in and caring for sick, injured
and orphaned hedgehogs. No hedgehog is ever turned away.
The aims of Hedgehog Welfare are:
To take in sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs, to care for them and
return them to the wild.
To encourage the finders of hedgehogs to care for them wherever possible
with full assistance from Hedgehog Welfare, including the loan of
equipment (when available) to do so.
To promote public awareness of the hedgehog in the wild (and of
conservation in general) and how everyone can assist.
To run courses which will improve the general knowledge and standards of
care-givers and veterinary surgeons.
If you would like to help or just know more about Hedgehog Welfare, its
work, or its courses, please write:
P.O. Box 1003,
Doncaster DN10 4JT
Janet has requested that when writing to her, could you possibly include
a stamped return envelope, or at least something to cover the return
cost. This will serve to help ensure the funds that Hedgehog Welfare
has will go to hedgehogs.
Barry Turner (who is the Newsletter Editor/WildAid) contacted me recently with
info on WildAid (formerly the SWRRC):
I help out with the Staffordshire Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
Centre [(SWRRC) - now WildAid -- Ed.], an animal Sanctuary at Kingsley
near Cheadle, Staffordshire, England.
Jonathon Hodges, the Curator, takes in large numbers of rescued, sick or
injured hogs and hoglets throughout the year.
WildAid is a U.K. registered charitable organization which looks after sick,
injured, and otherwise endangered wildlife, primarily throughout the British
Isles, as well as now helping other Sanctuaries with advice, practical
assistance and sometimes financial help.
The address for WildAid is:
Sprinks - Lane Kingsley - Near Cheadle
England ST10 2Bx
Telephone: 01538 754784
Fax: 01538 756702
You can also contact them (Barry Turner) via email at:
Another group in the U.K. that looks after hedgehogs is the Cleveland
Hedgehog Preservation Society (CHPS):
The Cleveland Hedgehog Preservation Society is a British group that
cares for injured hedgehogs [that] then are released back into the wild.
-- Donald Martin
Donald also passed along word that the CHPS [11.3] have a web site which
contains an excellent overview of what to do if you encounter a hedgehog
needing assistance, at:
I have also found information on yet another hedgehog organization in the
U.K., courtesy of a post on the alt.fan.hedgehog [11.3] newsgroup by Liz
The Hedgehog Helpline is a registered charity which relies on
sympathetic people to enable it to carry on the invaluable work
that it does to care for hedgehogs.
They produce an interesting booklet describing how to look out for
hedgehogs in your garden or in the countryside.
*Remember that Hedgehogs are wild animals and the object is to help our
prickly friends to survive, the object is always to return him or her to
his natural habitat if kept indoors over the Winter. They must never be
regarded as pets and prevented from having a natural life.*
If you are interested in a free copy of the booklet "All About
Hedgehogs," simply send a stamped addressed envelope, large enough to
contain an A5 sized booklet to:
5 Forelandland Road,
If you would care to make a donation also it would be put to a good
cause. Cheques made out to Hedgehog Helpline.
-- Liz Roberts-Morgan
Almost last, and certainly far from least (how can anything hedgehog related
be least?) is ``St. Tiggywinkle's'' Hospital. The following information on
it was sent along by Willard B. ``Skip'' Nelson, DVM, with the phone number
coming from LeAnne and Adrian:
I see that you are looking for Mrs Tiggywinkle's hospital in the UK.
I have corresponded with Mr. Les Stocker, M.B.E. of the Wildlife
Hospital Trust a.k.a. ``St. Tiggywinkle's'' and I can report that his
Wildlife Hospital Trust
Buckinghamshire HP17 8AF
Telephone: (44) 1844 292292
Similar in nature to ``St. Tiggywinkle's'' is the Welsh Hedgehog Hospital
The Welsh Hedgehog Hospital
Telephone (emergencies only): 01974 241381
fax: 01974 241237
The WWH are also the people behind the excellent book _The_Natural_Hedgehog_
which includes many accounts of their successes, and sometimes failures in
trying to save and return sick and injured hedgehogs to their homes. Like
all such organizations, they are always looking for volunteers and for
donations (or adoptions, as they offer them), but they also do provide help
to those trying to help a hedgehog in need.
There is also a newsletter called the ``Hedgehog News'' published by the
Herts Hedgehog Helpline group in the U.K. Here is some info on them from
Hedgehog News covers the activities of our wild rescues and their life
and times, together with advice for people who come across orphans,
injured hogs, winter wanderers, etc. We are now into the beginning of
the release season for those who have over-wintered with us, the first
being let out into the woods this week [week of March 27th]. Others
have been moved to our newly built and `almost' hedgehog-proof holding
pen. In the next few weeks Herts Hedgehog Helpline will release over
100 hogs in our area. Anyone in the south of England and especially in
Herts, Beds, Essex and Cambs can call us for help. If we cannot [help]
then there is someone in the network who can. I can be reached on
john.hortonREMOVE_TO_SEND@sb.com or on my home number 01462-451618 for
those in the UK. It is great to see hogs on the net, but remember that
nets are not friendly to hogs!
-- John Horton
As pointed out, you can contact John at the Herts Hedgehog Helpline at:
Crossing over to the mainland of Europe, there is Norway's Hedgehog Fan
Club, known as ``Hedgehog Friends.'' I received the following information
from its president Sigrun Seetrevik:
c/o Sigrun Saetrevik
Cost is 50 kr. (~ $7-$8 CDN, ~ $4-$5 USD) which includes their magazine (most
of the articles are in the Norwegian language, but Sigrun indicated that they
were open to articles in English as well). You can also try contacting him
by email at: SIGRUN-SREMOVE_TO_SEND@gribb.hsr.no
The club is quite informal in nature, and members often get together
socially to have a good time and talk hedgehog, which belies the origins
of the club:
The actual reason for the foundation of our organization is the
fact that thousands of wild hedgehogs are run over by cars in the
streets. It's really tragic to witness this. Our job should be to
care for hedgehogs so that car drivers pay more attention. However,
this is an almost impossible task, and therefore our ``mission'' has
become quite ridiculous. But we won't give up!
-- Sigrun Seetrevik
For hedgehog lovers in Sweden, I heard from Siw and Anders, who do take in
injured and sick hedgehogs, and can help with advice. They don't have a
large organization, so please don't inundate them with questions or
hedgehogs that you can help look after yourself, but they can certainly help
out, especially if you don't know what to do and don't have anywhere to
keep convalescent hedgehogs. You can contact them at:
754 28 Uppsala
In Belgium, the organization Wild Peace, based in Brussels, can provide
assistance in looking after orphaned animals such as hedgehogs. My thanks to
Janet Willacy for letting me know about them:
80 rue Buffon
Tel. (32 02) 520 52 38
Subject: <11.5> Miscellaneous Hedgehog stuff and sources
This section covers hedgehog related topics and items that don't fit into the
previous sections. Sources of supplies for looking after wild hedgehogs, or
other items which are not `information' or `organizations' are listed, here.
To date, this is an area that I have not had the opportunity to add much to,
I'll try to fill in the details here over the coming months and years. For
now, much of what goes here, is still scattered throughout other sections, so
take a look around, and you'll find some sources and resources.
One source that I have recently received information on is CJ WildBird Foods
Ltd., who, in addition to the obvious, also produce wild hedgehog food and
nest boxes. You can contact them at:
CJ WildBird Foods Ltd
Shrewsbury SY4 4UB
My thanks to Stefan Hossack of CJ WildBird Foods for passing along the
One caveat I do have to make, however; based on the photos of their hedgehog
food, it appears to contain sunflower seeds and as such it probably is not
suitable for smaller (e.g. African Pigmy) hedgehogs, which are quite prone to
choking on such items, though is probably fine with larger, European
hedgehogs. You can always just remove the pieces, or crush them if you have
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12. *** Care and Helping ***
Subject: <12.1> The hedgehog calendar
No, this is not a place to get a calendar of hedgehogs! Most hedgehogs can't
read one, anyway! It's the hedgehog's view of the year, or rather seasons.
I should probably note that this section is written from the perspective of
people, and well, hedgehogs, living in the northern hemisphere. For people
in places such as New Zealand, remember to read it upside down, um, er, with
the summer/winter reversed as to what the months show here. It also refers
primarily to European hedgehogs -- climates and calendars for wild African
and other species will differ considerably.
December - March (approximately): This is the time of hibernation.
Obviously, the exact timings will depend very much on climate, and to some
extent, what food supplies were like just before hibernation.
March - April: Hedgehogs arise from hibernation and start to appear. Most
will be very hungry, and a helping-hand dish of cat or dog food at this time
will be most welcome to get the new year off to a good start.
April - May: Mating season (for summer hoglets), or as some people call it,
the noisy season. Great snufflefests outside your windows can occur as
hedgehogs demonstrate their amorous tendencies.
June - July: It's hoglet season. Depending on when mating took place, the
little ones will appear roughly 35 days (32-40 days) later. These are the
summer hoglets, and will have the best chances of survival.
July - August: The summer hoglets start leaving home at around 8 weeks of
age. Again the timing varies, depending on when they were born, how much
food there is and a lot of other factors.
This is also the time of the second mating season. This season is much less
defined than the earlier one, and depends more on when mothers are free of
their babies, and might be receptive again. This carries on through
September - October: The autumn hoglets are born, and many hedgehogs start to
stock up on their winter fat. Obviously, hoglets born at this time have far
less opportunity to grow before the winter comes.
October - November: It's serious pack-on-the-fat-time for hedgehogs.
Prickly-appetites-on-paws will eat as much as they can at this time of year.
The autumn hoglets start to head out on their own in their desperate attempt
to build up enough fat and body weight to survive the coming winter.
Hedgehogs weighing less than 500-600 grams will have relatively little chance
of surviving anything but a mild winter.
December: It's time to find a den and settle in for hibernation. This is
triggered partly because of cold weather, and also (to a somewhat lesser
extent) because of reduced hours of daylight, but it is also because with the
coming of colder temperatures, most of the food supply disappears. Fat,
happy hedgehogs will now snuggle in until Spring.
Remember, the times shown in this calendar are very approximate. They will
all vary considerably with climate, food supply, and many other factors. In
years with late, or mild winters, hedgehogs can remain active into January,
which gives autumn babies a much better chance. In years with early winters,
many hedgehogs may be caught unprepared, and may sometimes be seen up and
around in the snow, trying to find a few last tidbits of food, or a better
shelter for the winter.
And, of course, New Zealand hedgehogs have it quite a bit differently, with
summer and winter reversed.
Subject: <12.2> Caring for visiting hedgehogs
Many people throughout the world, especially in Europe, have the pleasure of
having native hedgehogs visit their backyards and gardens. In many places
an almost overpowering urge exists to try and help these little visitors --
after all, in many cases, they are doing their best to rid your garden of
undesirable pests, besides they are irresistibly cute.
A quick point here -- this section is on naturally wild hedgehogs, and that
releasing pet hedgehogs into an environment, even one they could survive in,
in order to create a wild population, or just to dispose of a pet you no
longer want, is both cruel and dangerous, as well as illegal. In other
words, simply don't do it.
You should probably be aware that there is an interesting side effect to
having visiting hedgehogs in your garden, as Peter Captijn puts it:
European hedgehogs are known to wake up people sleeping with
an open window, when [the hedgehogs] are mating. I'm NOT joking:
people usually think there are burglars around the house and call the
When it comes to providing food for visiting hedgehogs, the age old standard
of a saucer of milk is not a good idea, and can upset a hedgehog's stomach,
although I have no doubt that the hedgehogs dearly love it. In general, the
same sorts of rules that apply to pet hedgehogs [6.2], also apply for people
wanting to feed wild hedgehogs. The biggest difference probably being the
quantity -- European hedgehogs are MUCH larger than the African Pigmy
variety, and have larger appetites corresponding to their size (Something can
have a bigger appetite than Quiver? I'd have to see that to believe it!).
This is especially so towards the late autumn when hedgehogs are preparing
for hibernation, or with nursing mothers.
If you are providing just some extra food for visiting hedgehogs, cat or dog
food makes a much better option than bread and milk. It will also serve to
attract hedgehogs much more readily. It also makes a good supplement to the
diet of a hedgehog naturally foraging to put on weight for hibernation.
For longer term care, such as a convalescing hedgehog, straight dog/cat food
is not the ideal food either, unless as Peter Captijn put it ``you find
You can feed them any kind of slugs. European hedgehogs eat
slugs, preferably by the kilo. I've heard and seen (in that
order) them eating snails, but Morris believes they leave
them [alone, given the choice of other foods]. (I'm not sure,
but they probably need the calcium from the snail's houses.)
Fritzsche warns about feeding weakened hedgehogs snails and
slugs. The snails can be infected with lungworms (Crenosoma
striatum), which can kill a diseased hedgehog.
-- Peter Captijn
Again from Peter is the following on feeding:
Helga Fritzsche's recipe for hedgehog food:
500 g meager meatloaf (I'm not into cooking as you can tell
from the used words)
1 stroked of tablespoon lime for pets (Calcium stuff for pets)
1 tablespoon of linseed-oil
1 handful dogdinner (the hard stuff)
1 handful oats with bearded wheat (spelt) (This comes right
out the dictionary.)
Mix it and make balls from about 35 grams, put them in aluminum-
kitchen-foil and keep them in the freezer. She recommends
giving food once or twice (preferably): in the morning a bit
and in the evening more. In the morning she gives 10 to 12
pieces of dogfood and 6 to 8 mealworms. (Fat ones only get
water), in the evening one ball of 35 grams of the above, 15
pieces of dogfood and 6 to 8 mealworms. Everything is
depending on the size of the hedgehog. Keep in mind that
European hedgehogs are bigger then African Pigmy. She uses a
vitamin-prep, 1 or 2 drips on the food. All food must be on
hedgehog temperature (at least room temperature). By the
way, she kills the mealworms prior to feeding so they can't
get away. [have you ever seen a mealworm get away from a
hedgehog? -- Ed.]
If you can manage to tolerate handling live food enough to feed it,
most hedgehogs love to hunt a bit as suggested by Anja van der Werf:
Please don't kill mealworms before feeding them to the animals: they
(the hedgehogs) have a right to have fun too.
With that comes a gentle reminder that hedgehogs which are in captivity (such
as convalescing from injury or illness), do need some entertainment -- a
barren cage means a boring life for an animal that usually spends its nights
snuffling over a surprising expanse of territory. Do your friends a favour,
and let them play.
If you are looking after a convalescent hedgehog(s), and the weather is
turning cold, don't forget to keep your little patient warm. Going into
hibernation when not fully healed, or without adequate winter fat reserves is
likely going to be a one-way trip. See section [12.8] for more information
Subject: <12.3> Feeding and caring for orphan baby hedgehogs
With the number of hedgehogs killed on roads, and from other reasons, it's
not surprising that orphaned babies do occur.
If you come across baby hedgehogs wandering about on their own, during the
middle of the day, there is a good chance that they are orphans. That said,
don't simply collect them and take them home to care for them. Unless they
are obviously in dire straits, it's best to give them a day or possibly two
to see if mom does return. If she hasn't within that time, you should
probably consider taking action. Of course, if they look to be in serious
need of help, then don't wait -- if they've already been on their own for a
while, they might not have a couple of days left in them.
What you feed them depends on their age, and this will be largely a judgement
call. If they are old enough it might be possible to feed them canned cat or
dog food (or the recipe above [12.2]). If they are too young, take a look at
the suggestions for nursing replacements outlined below. Basically, these
are the same formulas as used with baby African hedgehogs and will work well
for baby European hedgehogs also -- only the quantities will likely be quite
a bit greater (the 'hog' part of the name isn't there for no reason...).
Generally, the rule about avoiding or limiting cows' milk for adult hedgehogs
also applies to babies, only even more so. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant,
and cows' milk will likely cause diarrhea, resulting in dehydration and
Robyn Gorton, who was studying hedgehogs in New Zealand, passed along the
following information on caring for babies.
I find that caring for the young is simple enough as long as you have a
good milk to feed them. I have discovered that sheeps' milk is the
closest in composition to hhog milk and acts as an excellent substitute
when mixed with raw egg. It may for the first few days cause swelling of
the anus, but as soon as they start teething (3 weeks) you can add mashed
banana for fibre and their problems clear up. It's a very high protein
diet but one must watch for a vitamin B deficiency which can be caused
by too much raw egg. I had my two hoglets suckling on a syringe for the
first week and 1/2 until their teeth erupted (this takes three days for a
full set to emerge!!) then simply start using a saucer and they will
naturally feed from it themselves.
I've also heard of using goats' milk, similar to what Robyn suggested above,
though I trust her research as far sheeps' milk being closer to hedgehog
milk. I do need to caution, however, about the use of raw eggs, as they can
cause problems of their own [6.2] -- this, however, may be one situation
where bending those rules is worthwhile.
What do you do if you don't have a friendly goat or sheep, or can't easily
find sheeps' or goats' milk? Many pet stores and pet supply stores carry KMR
(Kitten Milk Replacement). It's usually in powdered form, which makes it
handy for the small quantities you will need.
I've also heard of Esbilac (human baby formula) being used successfully, to
offer yet another option. Anja van der Werf pointed out to me that when you
are trying to use human formula, make sure it is soya-based rather than based
on cows' milk.
One thing to watch out for in feeding baby hedgehogs, is that after each
feeding you must stimulate them to defecate and urinate, otherwise their
bladder and bowel will swell up and can even burst. To do this, simply
stroke along their tummy towards the anus, which simulates a mother licking
and grooming her babies. You can also do this with a warm damp tissue or
cloth. The idea isn't to squeeze anything out, just to stimulate the baby to
do it's business.
Remember that hand raising baby hedgehogs is very difficult, and if you try
and meet with tragedy, remember that you gave them much more of a chance
than they would have had without you. Whatever happens, don't give up and
decide that hedgehogs are bad, or that it's not worth helping hoglets -- it's
just hedgehog nature, and next time may well be nothing short of magical.
Another thing you can do for orphaned hedgehogs, is to contact one of the
organizations that provide sanctuaries or assistance (such as St.
Tiggywinkle's [11.4]). They can often provide information or assistance, and
may even be able to provide a home for the babies. This also goes for
injured or sick hedgehogs that you might happen across.
Subject: <12.4> Hedgehog housing
Most European countries are very protective about their native hedgehogs,
so this section does not refer to caging or keeping hedgehogs, but more
about providing shelter and protection for those that come to visit, or to
spend their winter's nap in your yard or garden.
Providing housing that is suitable to hedgehogs can both encourage them to
live in your area, and be frequent visitors, and it can also provide a safe
place for them to spend the winter, rather than curling up in a pile of
leaves or compost that can lead them to grief.
Here are some ideas from Peter Captijn on providing dens (see [12.4] also):
I have two daytime-sleeping-dens under some foliage. These are
open constructions which give protection against wind and rain.
And they like it, I may say. Every year there are some hedgehogs
in the garden, and sometimes, when I'm lucky, a pregnant female
likes it so much that she decides to have her hoglets in one of
the dens. I call it daytime-sleeping-dens but the hedgehogs
regularly hibernate in them.
The roof isn't attached permanently but can be removed by lifting
it. It fits tight by some wooden blocks. Hence I can clean it
once a year (when it is not in use: no fresh droppings). The
den is made of water-resistant multiplex (without formaldehyde!),
the roof is decked with asphalt-paper. Untreated wood can be
painted (use lead-free paint!) to give it a green-brownish look.
In the left top view: in the right under corner I drill some 1 cm
holes to let the piss drain away, but I'm not sure it's really
needed. Hedgehogs use these dens to sleep in and do not often
soil them. If they do, they choose a corner and use that always.
I fill this den with some fresh (pet store) hay, but the hedgehog
usually redecorates it with old leaves and such.
Peter also sent along some great drawings, which I will try to ASCIIize
and include down the road.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society [11.4] actually produces a booklet
on making hedgehog dens, and I believe they at least used to sell hedgehog
houses at one point.
The idea behind creating a den or house is to create a well ventilated,
cave-type structure, that can be packed with leaves and grasses to create a
cozy den. This can be partially underground, depending on what you have
available to you, such as by burying a wooden box (upside down) with a short
For winter, it should be well insulated with plenty of leaf litter and the
like, and protected from strong winds.
The next point that comes up is where to put it. Sticking your nice new
hedgehog house out in the middle of a well trimmed lawn is not likely to get
much prickly approval. Dens or houses should generally go along natural
borders, which are where hedgehogs are most likely to travel. It should also
be in a location that is not too busy -- either with human or furry traffic.
The best advice I can give, is to try and think like a hedgehog. You're
active in the dark and you don't see terribly well, but you don't want a den
that every badger in town is going to find an easy trail to.
Subject: <12.5> Hedgehogizing your garden
There are a lot of things you can do to make your garden more appealing and
safer for visiting hedgehogs -- all of which will encourage them to visit.
Of course, having a bumper crop of slugs and beetles is probably number one
on the hedgehog's list, but likely somewhere below the bottom of yours!
If you want to attract hedgehogs to your garden (assuming they are native to
your area), one of the best ways (as always with hedgehogs) is bribery. Put
out some food, preferably something like canned cat or dog food, or some
cooked eggs (scrambled supposedly works well).
Fresh water is always a good lure too, though beware of offering too much in
the way of a swimming pool without a way out (see section [12.7]).
One thing to beware of is that most pesticides are not safe for hedgehogs.
If you use a lot of pesticides on your garden, you should not be trying to
attract hedgehogs, unless the idea is to replace the pesticides with the
hedgehogs, and if so, discontinue the pesticides first.
Probably the biggest worry in this respect (pesticides) is slug bait. If
there are hedgehogs in your area, you should not be using slug bait as it
will almost certainly find its way into a hedgehog with unpleasant and often
dire consequences for the hedgehog. There are plenty of safe ways to deal
with slugs -- including hedgehogs.
Subject: <12.6> Wild hedgehog health
For the most part, wild hedgehogs are quite able to look after themselves,
except when they encounter humans in some form or another. There are some
maladies that do affect wild hedgehogs -- usually as the result of stress or
One particular problem to note, occurs primarily in autumn babies. That is
that they do not pack on enough weigh to be able to survive hiberating.
Hedgehogs need to weight at least 500-600 grams in order to have a reasonable
chance of surviving hibernation. If you have autumn babies in your garden
that are too small to hibernate successfully, you may need to bring them
indoors for a while, and fatten them up.
Here is a reminder from Peter Captijn that as friendly as wild hedgehogs are,
they are still wild animals and certain realities apply:
When a wild hedgehog has to be kept in house or with other
hedgehogs, it's a good idea to get rid of the fleas and ticks [9.4]
before you infect your clean house. Most people use cat spray, but
ticks tend to live through that. Bathing in vermin killing stuff
will be the solution. It can be done (preferably once) in a little
warm water so the hedgehog can't drown. Never use sprays or
whatever on piglets/hoglets, and never spray something in the
eyes, you can blind the hedgehog. Please remind: a healthy wild
hedgehog has vermin, always! This is natural.
Also from Peter are some pointers on various other health problems:
Rabies: from various sources - European hedgehogs don't get
rabies. Whether that means they just die very quick, or that
they are immune, I don't know.
[Editor's note: hedgehogs `can' get rabies, but due to the way they live, it
is exceptionally rare, at least as compared to other, more aggressive or
easily bitten animals]
About lungworms, Fritzsche writes about German scientific study
regarding lungworms by hedgehogs. Lungworms are capsulated
in the lungs and die. If the hedgehog isn't healthy, this
apparently doesn't work [fast enough?], and the hedgehog dies.
I do have hedgehogs running free in the garden, and I hear and
see [them] (in that order) eat snails and slugs, every day, and
quite a lot of them. I won't hesitate to offer a hedgehog a
snail, but I can't estimate the involved risk (if any).
In my other readings and researches I've learned that the level of vermin
(fleas, ticks, mites, etc.) on wild hedgehogs often has a lot to do with
their living conditions, or more specifically how stressful they are.
Hedgehogs living well out in the country, with a plentiful supply of food and
water, relatively little or no pollution, or problems from human
encroachment, will have little, or not detectable vermin. Those which are
under much more stress will have considerably higher levels of hitchhikers.
Injuries can provide an opportunity for various vermin to infest a hedgehog.
If you are helping a visiting friend out, check for ticks and even maggot
infestations where wounds or injuries might have happened. Maggots might
need to be removed from the wound with a pair of tweezers, and the wound
thoroughly cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
Ticks should be treated with something designed to kill them. Don't try to
simply remove them, or their mouth parts will be left attached, causing
infection and more serious problems.
I would suggest the book _The_Natural_Hedgehog_ to anyone who is planning to
try and help out hedgehogs in need. Also, don't try to treat anything more
than minor problems without the help of a qualified veterinarian.
If all else fails, or you aren't sure what to do, get in touch with one of
the organizations listed in section [11.4] -- they will be happy to assist
you in helping a little friend.
Subject: <12.7> Dangers to wild hedgehogs
When it comes to protecting hedgehogs, there is usually little danger to them
in the garden, or any other truly natural habitat, from other animals or
objects, as illustrated here by Peter Captijn:
I have two cats (females), and the garden is frequently visited
by many others (males!), but I'm still in doubt whether I should
protect the cats from the hedgehog, or vise versa. The hedgehog
usually barges through, whether there is a cat lying in its way
or not [gee, that sounds familiar - ed.]. The only risk I probably
have, is getting hedgehog-pests contaminated cats. Hedgehogs aren't
bothered easily, they have repeatedly walked over my mother's feet.
That said, there are dangers lurking in many gardens and yards, and dogs can
cause serious injuries to hedgehogs, especially young ones. Again, here are
some words of wisdom from Peter Captijn:
Please note that ANY PESTICIDE you'll use in your garden is bound
to end up in your HEDGEHOG, which means in an alarming rate: NO
HEDGEHOG! Hedgehogs are resistant against animal poisons, not
man-made pesticides. Hedgehogs do not destroy gardens, they do
not dig, they only manure it. They (try to) keep your garden free
of pests and bugs.
One of the worst things by way of pesticides is slug bait. This builds up in
slugs, which are one of the hedgehogs favorite foods, and hence in the
hedgehog. If possible, avoid the slug bait and let the hedgehogs do the
slug-removal, or if you must use it, make sure you keep hedgehogs out of your
Another, somewhat odd problem is that hedgehogs seem to compulsively crawl
into or through things (or at least try to, often becoming stuck). This
includes cans, plastic rings from drink cans, nets, plastic yogurt or ice
cream cups, and even key-rings. Why they feel a need to go into or through
instead of around is anyone's guess, but anything a hedgehog can get into, he
will, and if it's possible to become stuck, he will. Keeping your garden
free of such objects will help ensure the safety of the hedgehogs that visit
Also, pools and ponds present a unique problem to visiting hedgehogs. Many
man-made pools and ponds have smooth sides, which are too slippery or steep
for a hedgehog, who has accidentally fallen in, to climb out. One of the
easiest safeguards I have seen for this is to simply dangle a thick rope into
the water and tie the other end off to a stake. This is usually enough for a
hedgehog to climb out with. Hedgehogs can swim, and will follow around the
outside of the pool or pond looking for some way to get out. The only time
they tend to drown is in cases where they get too tired searching for a
non-existent way out. Another method some people use is to create a wooden
or cloth ramp, with one end floating in the water, and the other end safely
attached on dry land.
As a summary of dangers to hedgehogs, here is a list composed by David Mantle
of some of the hazards that face wild hedgehogs in our modern world. I've
added a few items and annotated a few others for clarity.
Below are just some of the hazards that wild hedgehogs in England have
to face, as well as surviving hibernation.
Badgers (one of their few natural predators)
Empty cat food tins
Fires (especially on Nov. 5th) (Guy Fawkes Day - fires and fireworks)
Four-pack ring binders (plastic holders for drink cans)
Human cruelty, kicking, stabbing etc.
Removed drain covers
Slug pellets (poison used to kill slugs)
Strimmers (weed eaters, string trimmers, etc.)
String (swallowed, or simply tangled)
Yogurt pots (or any other small plastic cup)
There are just so many things that they can become trapped in.
-- David Mantle
Hedgehogs truly possess an incredible ingenuity for turning the most mundane
of objects or situations into something with dire consequences for them. If
there is a way they can get into trouble, they will. If they can't get into
trouble, they will invent a way.
Subject: <12.8> Watching out for hibernating hedgehogs
European hedgehogs hibernate during the winter months (or cold months,
depending on where you might be located), unlike wild African Pigmy hedgehogs
who tend to do the opposite, aestivating [12.1] during the hot dry periods
The core hibernation months for hedgehogs, in Europe, are typically January
through March, with some hedgehogs who haven't put on enough weight in time
still staying up and around until February (usually desperately trying to add
to their winter fat so they can survive the cold).
Hibernation is a tough time for hedgehogs. If they haven't put on enough
weight, or if it is a particularly long or cold winter, they just might not
make it. However, even well fed hedgehogs who think they've found the ideal,
snug, warm place to survive the winter can run into modern problems, as
described by Seabury Salmon:
About Fall time, they hibernate in piles of leaves and things at the
bottom of the garden. The British gardener is a tidy beast and likes to
burn the leaves. Hence, roast hedgehog.
Before you start burning your leaves, etc., give the pile a quick check in
case a friendly neighborhood hedgehog has made a winter den in the middle of
European [hedgehogs] prepare for hibernation when it gets real
cold: 7 degrees Celsius and below (about 16 degrees Fahrenheit).
-- Peter Captijn
[Forgive me Peter, but I wish I lived with your idea of ``real cold'' -- that
sounds like a nice warm spring or autumn day! -- Ed.]
Hedgehogs will often remain curled up in hibernation until well into April.
If you discover one in a pile of leaves in your garden in the spring, you can
give him a good start to the year by putting out a pan of dog or cat food
where he will find it when he wakes up. You may even gain a friend who will
continue to visit your garden.
I should probably point out that hedgehogs do not need to hibernate, and if
given the opportunity to not do so, they certainly will not hibernate! It is
primarily because food is not available during the cold weather that they go
into hibernation (witness the fact that many animals don't hibernate in the
same climate). Because of this, rest assured that you aren't doing any harm
by keeping a hedgehog from its winter's nap.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Brian MacNamara - macnamara@HedgehogHollow.COM
Hedgehog Hollow: http://HedgehogHollow.COM/