Hedgehogs have started to wake up from hibernation and they need your help to survive this spring!
Did you know that when hedgehogs wake up from hibernation they are very hungry and thirsty?
This time of year is crucial for helping the hedgehogs in your garden as food can still be scarce and reduced rainfall can make it difficult for them to find the resources they need to recover from hibernation. Hedgehogs have started to come into Woodlands after being found wandering around in the day time, a tell tale sign that they need human intervention. When found out in the day they may appear to be sunbathing or wobbly and falling over. These are very common signs of dehydration, hypothermia and infection and is critical to act fast to give the hedgehog the best chance of survival. Occasionally they may appear well and look like they are simply foraging, however it is important to remember that they are a strictly nocturnal species so to emerge in the day often means they have reached a critical stage. The only exception to this rule is mothers who are nest building, but these hedgehogs will be walking with a clear purpose.
To rescue a hedgehog you can follow our quick and easy to follow guide to give them the best chance at survival!
1) Secure the 'hog. You will need a deep sided cardboard or plastic box to keep the hedgehog in temporarily. You can pick it up by placing an old towel over the top, slipping your fingers under it's tummy and placing it carefully into the box.
2) Create a heat source. Fill a plastic bottle with warm/hot water (but not boiling) and place it underneath a towel or blanket in the bottom of the box with the hedgehog. Hedgehogs can be hypothermic no matter what temperature it is outside, so even if it is warm outside this step is CRUCIAL for the hedgehog to survive.
3) Keep the 'hog warm. Put the hedgehog either on top of or close to the heat source and cover it over with a towel. This step helps to raise the hedgehog's body temperature close to a normal level and prevents their organs from shutting down one by one.
4) Keep the 'hog quiet, warm and dry. Find a secluded indoor space to place your box away from children, other animals, bright lights and loud noises. This will help to reduce stress and improve survival prospects!
5) Call for specialist help. You can contact us on 01704 823 293 to seek further advice or contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01548 890 801 to find the location of your nearest hedgehog specialist.
If after completing these steps you find that the hedgehog has severe injuries and may be unlikely to survive, it is best to take them straight to a vet to prevent any further suffering. The vet will not charge you for wildlife cases.
Did you know that 90% of hedgehogs seen out in the day time that do not receive immediate help will die?
This hedgehog was seen out in the day for three days in a row before being brought to Woodlands Animal Sanctuary. Unfortunately for this hedgehog intervention came too late and by the time he received the help he needed the damage had already been done. Following the steps above can be the difference between life and death and one of our animal care assistants Laura Thorpe who works with the hedgehogs almost every day thinks education is the key to improving survival rates
"We take a lot of hedgehog calls and only approximately 20% of people already have the hedgehog on a heat source when they call. Our advice is always to put down the phone, complete the steps and then call us back. It really can mean the difference between saving a life or simply watching the hedgehog pass away on arrival. If we can educate people about what to do for a hedgehog in it's time of need then we can increase survival rates."
Getting the hedgehog warm before it arrives at Woodlands has other benefits too!
"When a hedgehog arrives cold we have to place it on a heat pad, wait for it to warm to a normal temperature and then provide the medication and fluids it needs to recover, otherwise the medication will not work properly. This can take 20-30 minutes depending on how cold the hedgehog is and every minute of that time is crucial when you're fighting to save a life. If the hedgehog arrives warm we can medicate almost straight away and the chances of recovery are vastly improved."