A couple of weeks ago I found a hedgehog in the garden. It had been a few weeks since I'd last seen the regular ones foraging, and I'd weighed them to check they were ok to hibernate. This one looked smaller, so I scooped it up and weighed it.
Barely 500g, far too small to survive hibernation. I kept it safe, made sure it was warm, had water, bedding, and food. Than I called David at Neath Port Talbot Hedgehog Rescue, and he came to check the hog over for me. She's a female, was riddled with worms, and as suspected, too small, and wouldn't survive the winter.
David helped us with the hedgehogs we rescued last year, they were also far too small for hibernating and he took them and cared for them through the winter. But this time, he's full. There's no space at the hedgehog inn... He does a brilliant job, working full time, and balancing family with wildlife rescue, but he has limits on his resources.
This little one just needed 10 days or so of worm treatment and feeding regularly. With his support and advice, that's exactly what we're doing. She gets 200g of chicken cat food, in jelly - which she leaves but the gravy variety has stuff in that's bad for hedgehogs - per day, fresh water, a bed of shredded newspaper, and left in peace. She's not a pet. We only handle her for weighing, twice a week, and cleaning out daily. They make loads of mess!
Today she was checked again, and the sample seen was clear of all signs of worms. We think we've dealt with that problem successfully.She'll be with us through the Winter and will be released back into our garden next Spring.
By us keeping her here, David has space for a hog that needs more intensive treatment, or is more ill, or injured. Hedgehogs are in decline due to the pesticides we use in our gardens, our roads, we'd like to help the ones that are still around to survive as best they can.
I would like to ask you to consider doing 3 things.
- Stop using slug pellets. They kill so much more than just slugs. It's not just hedgehogs, it's everything that eats slugs, and everything that eats those things too.
- Let part of your garden grow a little bit wilder. Leave the grass at the edges a bit longer, leave that small gap in the fence/hedge.
- Consider if you can bung a couple of quid to help David help more hedgehogs - and bats, he does bats too.
Please, though, please don't just take a hog inside and start feeding or treating it for anything without asking for advice. They are wild animals and get stressed very easily. If you are worried about a hedgehog, put it in a high sided box with a towel for comfort, and a shallow dish of fresh water. Then ask for help. Always ask for help.