What do you do with a hedgehog in your garden?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

When you come across a hedgehog in your garden, it’s important to take appropriate action to ensure its safety and well-being. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do when you find a hedgehog in your garden:

1. Observe the hedgehog: Take a moment to watch the hedgehog from a safe distance. Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal animals, so if you spot one during the day, it’s likely in distress or injured.

2. Assess the situation: Look for any signs of injury or distress. If the hedgehog appears to be injured, disoriented, or in immediate danger (such as near a busy road or trapped somewhere), you should intervene to help.

3. Prepare for handling: Before attempting to handle the hedgehog, make sure to protect yourself and the hedgehog. Wear thick gardening gloves to avoid getting pricked by their spines, as hedgehogs may curl into a defensive ball when approached.

4. Pick up the hedgehog: Gently scoop up the hedgehog using the gardening gloves. Be careful not to squeeze or put pressure on its body. Support the hedgehog’s weight and hold it close to your body to provide a sense of security.

5. Use a suitable container: Place the hedgehog in a secure and well-ventilated container, such as a cardboard box. Ensure the box has a lid or cover to prevent the hedgehog from escaping, as they are known to be good climbers. Make sure there are air holes to allow for proper ventilation.

6. Create a temporary habitat: Line the bottom of the box with an old towel or newspaper to provide a comfortable surface for the hedgehog. You can also add some leaves, twigs, or a small box with a small entrance as a hiding spot. This will help mimic their natural environment and reduce stress.

7. Provide food and water: Place a shallow dish of fresh water in the box for the hedgehog to drink from. Avoid using milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. You can also offer a small amount of cat or dog food, specifically formulated for hedgehogs or without fish flavors, as their primary diet consists of insects and invertebrates.

8. Contact a wildlife rescue center: It is crucial to contact a local wildlife rescue center or a hedgehog rehabilitation center as soon as possible. They will provide guidance on what to do next and arrange for the hedgehog to be picked up or advise if you should bring it to them.

9. Maintain a quiet and warm environment: Keep the box in a quiet and warm place, away from any pets or disturbances. Hedgehogs require a stable temperature to recover, so aim for around 20-25 degrees Celsius (68-77 degrees Fahrenheit). Avoid direct sunlight and drafts.

10. Follow professional advice: Once you have contacted the rescue center, they will guide you on the next steps based on the hedgehog’s condition. They may ask you to monitor the hedgehog’s behavior or provide additional care until they can take over its rehabilitation.

Remember, it’s illegal to keep a hedgehog as a pet without the proper licenses and permits in many countries. So, it’s always best to seek professional help from wildlife experts who can provide the necessary care and rehabilitation for the hedgehog’s well-being.

I have personally encountered hedgehogs in my garden on a few occasions. One time, I spotted a hedgehog during daylight hours, which immediately raised concerns. I carefully observed the hedgehog and noticed it was limping, indicating a potential injury. Following the steps mentioned above, I used gardening gloves to pick up the hedgehog and placed it in a cardboard box with ventilation holes. I provided water and some cat food while I contacted a local wildlife rescue center. They instructed me to keep the hedgehog in a warm and quiet place until they could arrange for its pickup. It was a rewarding experience knowing I could help the hedgehog and ensure its safety.