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PostSubject: General hedgehog info.....   Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:26 pm


The Latin word for hedgehog is Erinaceus and our own British hedgehog is scientifically known as Erinaceus europaeus; it is the same species that occurs throughout most of the continent of Europe. In Britain it is found almost everywhere except some of the Scottish Islands, but tends to be scarce or absent from wet areas and pine forests. Uplands and mountainsides are not popular, probably because they lack both suitable food and suitable nesting places. Hedgehogs are well established in our urban habitat and can, somewhat surprisingly, survive very well in our cities, making extremely good use of cemeteries, railway land, wasteland and both public and private gardens. Shakespeare mentions hedgehogs in ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and he refers to ‘hedgepigs’ and ‘urchins’.


Everyone is sure to know what a hedgehog looks like. The hedgehog’s back and sides are covered in 25mm (1”) long spines (which are really modified hairs). These are absent from the face, throat, chest, belly, and legs, which are covered with coarse, grey-brown fur. There are approximately 5,000/7,000 spines on an average adult hedgehog. What many people do not know is that a hedgehog has a small tail.

Diet - Hedgehogs are noisy eaters as people who have encountered these animals 'at table' will testify; but what do they actually eat?

Beetles are a major food item along with caterpillars and earthworms. Most people are aware that hedgehogs are basically insect eaters.

However, many householders put out a saucer of meat based pet food for their garden friends. The hedgehog will treat this as a welcome supplement to its normal diet and will not go hungry if, for some reason, the food is not put out. Always ensure that a dish of water is available especially during the summer months or in extreme weather conditions.

A recommended diet is listed under ‘Caring for Autumn Juveniles’.

Garden Visitors

At the risk of disappointing some people it is worth mentioning the fact that hedgehogs tend to 'do the rounds' and visit several gardens within an area. Ten or more different individuals may visit a garden over several nights, which could mean that 'your hedgehog' is in fact a number of different individuals visiting at different times.

Helping your Friends

The best ways of assisting hedgehogs are by helping them avoid man-made hazards and providing them with suitable places to nest, especially in the winter.

Slug Pellets

These are poisonous and should not be used. If absolutely necessary, pellets should be placed in a pipe or under a slate inaccessible to hedgehogs. Remove dead slugs daily. Use other pesticides sparingly; or better still not at all, you never know what else they might kill or make sick. Always try alternative methods – see the British Hedgehog Preservation Society leaflet on Creating a Wildlife Garden.

Garden Ponds/Swimming Pools can be death traps to small mammals so always ensure that there are several gently sloping slipways to allow them to escape if they fall in. Ensure the pool cover is on every night and that polystyrene floats are placed near the side for a hedgehog to cling to. Slipways may be made by half submerging bricks or rocks around the edges of ponds and pools. Alternatively a piece of chicken wire can be hung over the edge like a scrambling net which hedgehogs can climb up to freedom. Keep the pond level topped up so that hedgehogs can reach the wire. Do remember hoglets will need a longer ramp than an adult hedgehog.

Cattle and Sheep Grids

Many small animals including hedgehogs and birds cannot escape from sheer-sided pits beneath the grids. A small ramp or slope in the corner of the pit enables the trapped animals to walk out. – See the British Hedgehog Preservation Society leaflet ‘Ramps’.

Other Dangers

Hedgehogs can become entangled in tennis and other nets causing death by starvation. Roll up the net well above ground when not in use. Keep pea netting 22 –30cms (9 – 12”) off the ground so hedgehogs can pass safely underneath them and plants will grow up to the netting. Legs can also become trapped in “log roll” edging.

Hedgehogs are inquisitive and will try to eat almost anything, a trait that can lead to their undoing. Having been attracted by the remaining contents, hedgehogs have been found with their heads stuck in tins, yoghurt pots and plastic cups. Always cut the plastic rings of “carry 4 and 6 pack” holders. To prevent such unnecessary deaths, litter should be disposed of in a proper manner. Keep bags used for putting out household rubbish off the ground. This will prevent hedgehogs reaching them and tearing into the bag, they can become trapped in the rubbish or even put out for refuse collection.

Keep drains covered so that hedgehogs do not become stuck down them. Bean trenches, footings, fencing holes and car inspection pits are all potential death traps for hedgehogs. Provide an escape route e.g. a sloping plank or cover the holes so hedgehogs do not become trapped.

Keep shed, greenhouse and garage doors closed at night so hedgehogs are not tempted to make a nest in them and perhaps become trapped when doors are permanently closed. Store chemicals safely.

When replacing walls or fencing try to provide a hole so hedgehogs can continue to pass from your garden into your neighbour’s gardens without difficulty. Use environmentally safe wood preservatives on your fences, garden furniture and wooden buildings.

Do keep dogs under control if you know you have hedgehogs in the garden. Also remember that whilst your dog may be hedgehog friendly, visitor’s dogs may not. If in doubt keep your dog on a lead when it goes out into the garden when it is dark.

Hedgehogs in the Garden

The hedgehog is known as ‘the gardener’s friend’ as it will eat slugs, beetles, caterpillars etc., and does no harm, so if you have a garden a hedgehog is to be encouraged. They should not be kept in close captivity, but regarded as welcome visitors.

Parasites - If it is necessary to remove fleas from a hedgehog, then a commercially prepared powder suitable for caged birds (Johnson’s Rid-Mite) can be dusted amongst the spines (taking care to avoid the eyes of the animal) as an adequate treatment, but do not use on very young hedgehogs.

Blood-sucking ticks are often found on hedgehogs and after taking their fill of blood, will drop off the host in order to complete their life cycle. Removal of these ticks is a difficult task but can be accomplished by dousing the ticks in olive/almond/cooking oil. Removing these ticks with forceps is to be avoided as the inexperienced may leave the mouthparts and head in the skin that may turn septic.

Caring for Autumn Juveniles - Hedgehogs may give birth to their hoglets late in the year. Such youngsters will not have enough time to build up sufficient fat reserves to enable them to survive hibernation. The minimum weight to see them through the winter is 450gms (1lb) and any hedgehog below this weight is likely to have problems. However many hedgehog carers prefer to get their autumn juveniles up to 600gms (1lb 6oz) or more to give them an extra edge. Autumn juveniles i.e. youngsters found alone under this critical weight after the end of September, will need extra help even if it is just additional feeding in the garden (call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for further advice on 01584 890 801).

If the hoglet is very young (under 160gms/6 oz) it should be given extra warmth with a hot water bottle wrapped in towelling or a blanket, or a heated pad – again call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for advice. It should be placed in a box with plenty of clean, fresh straw, crumpled newspapers or old towelling for bedding. Out buildings are fine if heated but don't put hedgehogs on a metal grid or wire floor or straight onto concrete - they have sensitive feet and cold will permeate through.

Once eating, a suitable diet can consist of meat based pet food (not in gravy), cooked chicken (excluding bones), minced beef or lamb, a little bran or unsweetened moistened muesli cereal and added vitamins – like SA37. Other snacks enjoyed are banana, raisins, unsweetened crushed digestive biscuits and dry cat or hedgehog biscuits. Fresh water should ALWAYS be available. Cows milk SHOULD NOT be given. For the care of very young hoglets – offer warmth as above and seek immediate advice. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has a leaflet: Caring for Hoglets available from the address below. However, this is a specialised job and it may be better to pass the hoglet(s) onto an experienced carer. Call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890 801 for details of your nearest carer.

Once the animal has reach 600-800gms (1lb 6oz – 1lb 13oz) release can be considered. Choose a period of relatively warm, damp weather and ensure that plenty of dry nesting material is available for the hedgehog to build a winter nest and hibernate. If in doubt do not release until late April when food is more plentiful, allowing the up-to-weight hedgehog to hibernate in a cold out house in a box filled with dry fresh straw providing food until it is no longer taken. Once hibernating provide dry foods so should the hedgehog wake it will have food and water available. Ensure that hedgehogs already inhabit the proposed release site, as this is an indication that the area is 'hedgehog friendly'. See the British Hedgehog Preservation Society leaflet ‘Into the Wild’.


If you want to attract wildlife to your garden leave wild areas and avoid tidying up too much. Hedgehogs tend to hibernate between November and mid March and may choose the stack of leaves or branches in your garden. For this reason if you have to get rid of such material move it to a different spot before setting fire to it - a hedgehog may be sheltering or hibernating in it. They like to nest under things such as sheds, hedges and brushwood and they need plenty of dry leaves to build their nest.

Acknowledgements and Further Reading

The use of information from *’Hedgehogs’ (Whittet Books, 1993 price £9.99) by Dr. Pat Morris is gratefully acknowledged. Dr Morris is one of the country’s leading hedgehog experts and his book gives factual, down to earth information on hedgehog behaviour, habits, physiology and private life, illustrated with delightful and amusing drawings by Guy Troughton.

*This book may be ordered direct from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

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PostSubject: Re: General hedgehog info.....   Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:00 pm

It is important to remember that hedgehogs are not just pets. In the United Kingdom and Europe hedgehogs run wild and are a very important part of their native ecosystem.

Protected by law in most European countries, one would think hedgehogs are safe and secure, but in reality they are in constant danger of extinction at the hands of humans..

Often misunderstood and steeped in folklore, hedgehogs are as much at risk from do-gooders as they are from those who wish to see them dead.

In ancient times, and as late as the fifteenth century, hedgehogs (or urchins as they were then known) were sometimes accused of being witches in animal form. They were also appearing on menus of the day. Conrad of Megenberg considered their flesh to be good for a variety of ailments:

"...the flesh of the hedgehog is wholesome for the stomach and strengthens the same. Likewise it hath a power of drying and relieving the stomach. It deals with the water of dropsy and is of great help to such as are inclined to the sickness called elephantiasis"

Although conditions have improved somewhat for the poor hedgehog, people still have misconceptions that lead to their illness and death on an almost daily basis.

Countless hedgehogs are killed on roadways every year despite efforts to educate the public and the building of special "hedgehog tunnels" under roadways, built in an effort to give the animals a safe way to bypass busy roads.

Many homeowners still put out a dish of milk and bread to encourage hedgehogs to stay in their gardens. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, making this tradition more harmful than beneficial.

Care must always be taken before burning a pile of leaves or when turning over mulch piles since hedgehogs like to burrow into them to sleep and hibernate. Many hapless hedgehogs have been carelessly burned to death or impaled on the end of garden forks as a result of failing to first inspect the pile.

Swimming pools can likewise prove a source of danger since hedgehogs can fall in and, with no way out, drown. Pool owners should install a wooden ramp or a piece of thick rope to allow hedgehogs that might fall in to climb out on their own.

Slug bait should never be used as it can poison hedgehogs two ways. Hedgehogs will sometimes eat the pellets as well as bait-poisoned slugs. In either case, the result is a slow, terrible death.

Care should also be taken when using lawnmowers, strimmers and garden netting. All of these can injure, maim and kill hedgehogs without you even knowing it.

European Hedgehog Statistics


The hedgehog is easily recognized as it is the only British mammal to have spines They have short tails, long legs and small ears. They have pig-like noses and commonly live under hedgerows, hence their name.

Life span

Approximately five years.


Body length: 15-30 cm, Weight: 1.5-2 kg.


Females rear the young exclusively. Males and females only meet briefly during the breeding season. Females produce one or two litters a year. Gestation period is 35 days. Litter size varies, but 4-5 is the average. The pups are weaned at five to six weeks.


Hedgehogs have a mainly insectivorous diet consisting of slugs, snails, earthworms, beetles and earwigs with them preferring one food type over another through the year. They have also been known to eat frogs and mice as well as eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds.

European hedgehogs range across Western Europe, including Britain, from Scandinavia to Romania. They were introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century.


Hedgehogs are mainly solitary animals and are nocturnal by nature, but are most active in the evenings and mornings and after fresh rainfalls. They can travel up to 2-4 km per night while foraging for food.

By day, hedgehogs seek shelter in temporary nests of leaves, twigs and grass, venturing out at dusk in search of food. As the summer progresses, hedgehogs put on weight in preparation for hibernation in October. Hibernation nests (hibernacula) are typically situated in leaf piles or under hedgerows.

During hibernation the body temperature drops to as low as 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) and the heart rate drops dramatically, from 190 to about 20 beats per minute. Mortality is high during the hibernation period. By March or April the hedgehogs come out of hibernation.

Conservation status

Hedgehogs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act in Britain, and may not be trapped without a licence. They are not considered to be endangered, although their numbers are in decline due to habitat loss.

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PostSubject: Re: General hedgehog info.....   Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:01 pm

What to do if you find a sick or injured or baby hedgehog or any hedgehog you are worried about:As soon as you find an injured or sick hedgehog PLEASE pick it up immediately, put it in a box or wrap it in a towel or jumper or something and THEN ring for help. If you leave it where it is, it will crawl or run away. For a sick or injured hedgehog every minute matters.

If you are phoning for help:

For Essex, East London or North Kent ring The South Essex Wildlife Hospital 01375 893893

The Hedgehog Helpline 029 2062 3985 can give URGENT advice to find a carer or rescue centre near you in the rest of the UK

Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital has a 24 hour help and advice line 01844 292292

General advice can be obtained from BHPS on 01584 890801 during office hours

A list of carers or rescue centres who might be able to help can be found here or on the BHPS website

When you can't get help from anywhere else, you can ring us on 020 8508 4056 or 07717 834570

When you cannot contact a hedgehog or wildlife rescue centre or carer immediately then Any sick or injured hedgehog should be taken to a local vet who will give basic emergency treatment free of charge.

If you are in the Northeast or East London areas then the Goddard Vet Group are very helpful with injured wildlife. Their emergency Hospital at Wanstead is open 24 hours

Only ring RSPCA 0300 1234999 as a final resort. We cannot rely on them to treat wildlife and not kill them, including hedgehogs, because they won't pay to have them treated and they frequently give incorrect advice causing unnecessary suffering to the hedgehogs.

PLEASE NOTE: if you need help or urgent advice or find a sick or injured or baby hedgehog use the telephone, an email might not get read for a few hours and often 1 or 2 days.

Any hedgehog seen out in daylight will need URGENT help

Hedgehogs do NOT lie out sunbathing

Any cut or wound is urgent

Any hedgehog with flies on it or maggots crawling on it needs VERY Urgent help

Any Hedgehog limping or walking strangely needs help

Anything that looks very thin or wobbly or has bald patches or missing spines

If you see a baby hedgehog or any small hedgehog weighing less than about 500 grams, that is about the size of a large orange or small grapefruit, at ANY time, whether day or night, that is out on its own, pick it up, pop it into a box with food and water and contact us or your local rescue centre for help and advice.

A young or small hedgehog that is left out on its own will not be able to survive and will starve to death, by providing them with food and water they stand more chance of survival. (see diet page )

You can help save numerous hedgehogs by putting a small plate of dog or cat food or cat biscuits in your back garden every night, together with a bowl of water. Put a bowl in your back garden and one outside your front door for the hedgehogs who can't get into your garden. You can make or buy a feeding station to stop other animals stealing the food

Doing this little thing could help prevent many hedgehogs starving to death and dying of thirst

If you have hedgehogs in your garden, please look after them well. You are one of the very few lucky ones to still enjoy the presence of these endangered animals

Hedgehogs are insectivores with over 70% of their natural diet being insects and beetles, some worms and a very tiny amount of slugs and snails.

**Do not give them bread and milk**. They cannot digest the bread and cows milk gives hedgehogs very bad diarrhoea. Many hedgehogs die because of this wrong diet.

What to feed them on...

Tinned Cat, Dog, Puppy or Kitten food. They prefer Chicken flavours best. Do not give Fish flavours

Cat or Kitten Biscuits. Only give meat flavoured biscuits. Do not give Fish flavours.
The premium brands like Royal Canin, Burns, Hills or James Wellbeloved are much better for them (The "cheaper" common brands contain much more cereal and are not so nutritious)

Spike’s Dinner hedgehog food either tinned or dry available from good pet shops or Direct from Spikes World who also have other quality hedgehog foods in their online store

Garden Bird Hedgehog food

Wildthings Hedgehog Food

Any cooked meat leftovers like chicken or mince. Chop all meat in very small pieces. Hedgehogs only have tiny teeth and cannot chew or tear big pieces.

Small pieces of chopped mild or medium cheddar cheese

Chopped Peanuts ( the same peanuts you feed the birds on. NOT SALTED NUTS)

Sultanas & Raisins

Lots of Water, especially in hot weather. Hedgehogs drink a lot of water.

DO NOT give salty foods like bacon and corned beef

In winter or cold weather use biscuits, peanuts, cheese etc instead of tinned meat which freezes quickly

Feed at night after the flies have gone and remove the food in the early morning, before the flies arrive. Fly maggots cause serious harm to hedgehogs.

Stop Cats or Foxes stealing the hedgehog’s food.

Keeping the food under a platform or ridge tile will help to prevent other animals like Dogs, Cats or Foxes stealing the hedgehog’s food.

Build or buy a small feeding station or house to put the food into that will only allow hedgehogs to get in.

This will also help keep the food, especially biscuits dry in the rain and prevents it freezing in the winter.

Put the water OUTSIDE the feeding station. ( In freezing weather put water inside the feeding station)

The quick, cheap and easy way:
Get a plastic storage box about 12" wide by 18" long (or bigger)
Either use it with the lid on, or turn the box upside down. Cut a 4" to 5" hole ( about a large fist size) in one of the short ends.
Tape around the cut-out hole
Hedgehogs can be messy eaters, so put plenty of newspaper on the floor of the box
Put the food at the opposite end so a fox or cat cannot put their long arm in and pull out the food
Put a brick or heavy weight on top of the box, to stop it being knocked over or the lid pulled off.
If cats or foxes still try to get in, then place the box about 6" away from a wall as shown in the last 3 pictures (with the entrance facing towards the wall)

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PostSubject: Re: General hedgehog info.....   Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:02 pm


Hedgehogs are an extremely versatile and adaptable animal that can be found in large areas of the world. They are native to Asia, Africa, Europe and Great Britain. They have been successfully introduced to some of Britain's northerly islands as well as to New Zealand. Hedgehogs are most closely related to the shrew family and despite their slight similarity, they are totally unrelated to porcupines. Other hedgehog-related species include tenrecs, a spiny, near look-alike animal found on the island of Madagascar, as as well as moonrats, the hairy hedgehog of South-East Asia.

Considering the wide area across which these animals are distributed, it is of little wonder that there are a total of 14 species and four genera of hedgehogs. From animals that weigh a mere one pound to those that tip the scales at over four pounds, the variations within the hedgehog family are great and very distinct.

The hedgehog that most pet lovers in North America are familiar with is commonly referred to as the African Pygmy Hedgehog. In actual fact, this animal is the product of not one, but two different species of hedgehog - the White-Bellied (Atelerix albiventris) and the Algerian hedgehog. (Atelerix algirus) Whether the crossing of the two was a deliberate act or simply an accident is unclear and may never be known.

Both of these hedgehog species are native to Africa. The White-Bellied is found right across steppes and savanna of central Africa, while the range of the Algerian hedgehog is limited to the the northwest regions of the continent along the Mediterranean coast. The Algerian has also been introduced into southern Spain and France and also occurs on the islands of Malta, Djerba as well as the Canary Islands.

They are naturally an insectivorous animal but will eat other foods of they are available. Besides eating a wide range of insects, they will also dine on small rodents, snakes, bird eggs and chicks, as well as fruit, roots and groundnuts. There seems to be virtually no limit to what a hedgehog will eat. It is of little wonder, then, that many of the original wild-caught hedgehogs were first captured in garbage dumps!

A common misconception about hedgehogs is that they are a burrowing mammal. While it is true that they enjoy a dark, cool hole in which to sleep and raise their young, these burrows are usually the abandoned holes of other animals. If no such accommodation is available, they will simply look for a shallow depression in the ground or a crag between two rocks and cover it with a thick mat of leaf debris and sticks. In this very basic home they will sleep, hibernate and raise their young.

They are a solitary animal that is more than content to live and sleep on their own. If they should happen to cross paths with another hedgehog during their nightly forays, they will generally avoid one another but will on occasion fight one another. It is only during breeding that males and females will come together and, once the job is done, both will head their separate ways, with the female raising her young solely on her own.

African hedgehogs have many predators including birds of prey, jackals and wild dogs. These animals, though, must be able to penetrate the hedgehogs main means of defense - its spines. When frightened, a hedgehog will simply roll itself into a tight ball, presenting its attacker with a near impenetrable ball of spines. Although this is effective against many would-be predators, it is of little use against the hedgehogs number one threat - the automobile. Every year, scores of thousands of hapless hedgehogs are killed on roadways. So many are killed, in fact, that wild populations have been severely depleted in some parts of the world

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