What to do if you see a hedgehog

It is heading to that time of year again when nature brings new life into the world.  The trees and hedges are looking much greener and our gardens are looking much more appealing to spend time in once again. 

It is those hedges, and our gardens, that provide so much benefit to the wildlife and insects that live in our area.  The more flowers, plants and tress there are, the more the pollenating insects can thrive and build an even healthier and diverse environment.  It is these diverse environments that provide suitable habitats and food sources for other wild animals and birds. 

Hedgehogs are small, native mammals who are currently really struggling around the UK, due to their environments and food sources being severely reduced.  Allowing free access into and out of your garden, having an area of your garden that is left to be as wild as possible are all things that you can do to assist the hedgehog population in your area. 

But what do you do if you come across one of these nocturnal mammals during the day?  Remember; ‘A hog out in the day is never ok’.  Hedgehogs are nocturnal – this means they do their ‘day’ during the night, when it’s dark and generally we are in bed.  So if you see one out during the day, you can be sure that there is something definitely wrong for them to be going against their natural instincts and to be out and about during daylight hours. 

Time is always of the essence when a hog is out during the day, because it will not be its first response to be out at that time.  Even if they look fine, they can be suffering from hyperthermia (yes, even in the summer, if they are literally starving, or dehydrated their system will be starting to shut down & they will need medical intervention to survive) or a severe parasitic burden which can be fatal. 

Hedgehogs do not sunbathe.  Hedgehogs do not take walks in the sunshine.  Hedgehogs do not wake for a siesta in the sun. 

If you see a hog out during the day, either keeping very still, walking in circles, or wobbling whilst it is walking – it is poorly. 

As soon as you can, pick up the hog, carefully, use gloves if you wish, and place it in a high sided box with a heat source (even in summer) that it can get off if it needs to and take it either to your local rescue, like Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, or to your local vet.  Vets have a duty of care to look after wildlife, and they will not charge you, nor do you need to make an appointment.   

Time really is of the essence in these situations, and the sooner the hog can begin to receive medical intervention the greater the chance of their survival – it really is that simple. 

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary do ask that you phone them prior to taking a hog to them (but always after you have put the hog in a box with a heat source and a blanket they can hide in) so that they can assess whether they have the facilities and expertise to deal with that particular hog.  In situations where they do not, they will ask that you take the hog to your nearest vets.  This could be if the hog has an obvious injury, an infection that will require anti-biotics or even a high burden of ticks or fly eggs, which may need more specialist care to remove than the team at Woodlands can provide.  Often, once vets have treated the hog, they will then send them to their local rescue, where they can be rehabilitated to the point of being able to be released back into the wild. 

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary work very hard with every single hog who comes into them to ensure they receive as comprehensive care as possible to give them the best chance of survival.  Once stabilised and they have reached a weight which will allow them to survive in the wild, they will then be sent to one of the charity’s pre-approved soft release sites to begin their release process. 

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