Found a baby hedgehog
If you find an uninjured baby hedgehog (also known as a hoglet) and think they need rescuing, watch them from a distance first. It's usually best to leave them alone. However, there are a few things you can do to check if the hoglet does need help.
Only intervene straight away if you find a baby hedgehog:
- in immediate danger (such as on a road)
- Weighing less than 300 grams (roughly the size of an apple) and without an adult hedgehog nearby
- that is sick or injured, or surrounded by flies
If any of those apply, please collect them in a box and contact your local wildlife centre or a vet. If you're unable to transport the hoglet, please contact us. Young hedgehogs that weigh over 300g should be weaned and almost ready to be independent from their parents, so please follow the advice below for juvenile hedgehogs. Our advice is different for juveniles found in the summer and those found in the autumn, closer to hibernation time.
Helping juvenile hedgehogs - summer
If they're larger than apple-sized (about 300g) and they're not in immediate danger, sick or injured, monitor the juvenile from a distance. If you're concerned, you can try offering food and fresh water. See what to feed young hedgehogs below.
If the juvenile doesn't eat the food or it doesn't leave the area, please contact your nearest wildlife rehabilitator.
Helping autumn juvenile hedgehogs - from Oct to Feb
Although most hoglets are born in the summer, mothers can sometimes have a second litter which could be born as late as September or October, not long before hibernation starts. Hedgehogs born this late in the year might not have enough fat reserves to survive the long winter hibernation without some help. Often, they'll have to forage for longer to find enough food so they might be seen out during the day.
The best way to help the juvenile hedgehog will depend on how much it weighs:
- If the hoglet weighs less than 300g, then it will need specialist care to survive the winter. Please follow the advice below to capture and transport the hedgehog to a carer.
- If the juvenile weighs between 300 and 500g, only being seen at night, and it's before mid-October with mild weather, you can provide food in the garden for the hedgehog. Monitor the hedgehog's weight, and if it's not gaining weight or you're still seeing it when the weather gets colder, please contact a rehabilitator.
- If the juvenile weighs between 300 and 500g after mid-October, they probably won't have enough weight to see them through the winter so may need more help. We recommend following the BHPS advice for autumn juvenile hedgehogs which describes how to help them over winter.
- If the hedgehog weighs over 500g and is only seen out at night, it should be healthy enough to hibernate as normal in the wild. They'll be foraging for food overnight so if you can, keep providing food in the garden as this will help them to put on even more weight before hibernation. However, if the hedgehog is sick or injured or seen out during the day during cold weather follow our advice.
Together with other rehabilitation organisations, the RSPCA has produced a leaflet which explains more about suitable hibernation weights for hedgehogs.
What do young hedgehogs eat
You can try offering food to a young hedgehog, but make sure what you feed them is suitable.
- Tinned dog or cat food, and cat biscuits or crushed dog biscuits, make good hedgehog foods. Good quality, meaty specialist hedgehog foods can also be bought from wildlife food suppliers.
- Very young hoglets that weigh less than 300g can't eat dry food, so the biscuits would need to be soaked in water first.
- Never give cow's milk to hedgehogs as it can give them diarrhoea, or bread as it's low in nutrients.
Capturing and containing hedgehogs
If it's safe to catch and handle the hedgehog then, wearing thick gloves or using a folded towel, gently pick it up and place it into a secure high-sided cardboard box, lined with a towel. You might also find that throwing a towel over the hedgehog causes it to curl up, making it easier to catch. It's important not to handle the hedgehog any more than you need to, because contact with humans will be stressful for them. Make sure you wear gloves if you have to handle a hedgehog, as they can carry diseases like ringworm or salmonella bacteria which can be passed to humans. Hedgehogs from the same litter can be kept in the same box if it's big enough.
If a hedgehog gets too cold then their chances of recovery reduce, so it's important to give them warmth as soon as possible. To help keep the hedgehog warm, place a hot water bottle in the box. Please make sure the hot water bottle is only warm and well-wrapped in a towel to prevent the hedgehog coming in contact with it and getting seriously burned. Make sure there's enough room in the box for the hedgehog to move away from the bottle if it gets too hot.
Keep the hedgehog somewhere warm and quiet indoors, offer them a small amount of suitable food and water, and contact your nearest wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. It's often faster to take an animal to a wildlife rehabilitator yourself, as our officers may be out of the area attending other calls. If you're unable to transport the hedgehog, please contact us.