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Spike in sick hedgehog numbers

05.12.17

Hedgehog being held securely

We're appealing for hedgehog food and bedding donations as a surge in admissions has put pressure on our supplies.

Around 500 sick and underweight hedgehogs have flooded into our wildlife centres in Norfolk (250+) Somerset (100+), Cheshire (120+) and East Sussex (28).

A run on our supplies

Our scientific information officer Llewelyn Lowen said:

Every day, more and more sick hedgehogs are being admitted to our wildlife centres. There are now nearly 500 of them, and the centres are close to running out of food and bedding. It’s a particularly prickly problem.

Hedgehogs need plenty of fat reserves to see them through the winter because they hibernate. So any that are not up to a good size now are a concern as they’re in danger of not making it through the winter.

With so many hedgehogs to care for, the centres are experiencing shortages of everything they need to look after the little creatures properly.

Llewelyn continued:

There’s been a real run on our supplies. So whether it’s shredded paper or newspaper for their bedding or special food from their Amazon wish lists, our centres would be so grateful for any donations.

Underweight hedgehogs

Hedgehog bedded in shredded paper

Most of the hedgehogs which have been admitted to our centres are severely underweight and need to be built up before they can be released.

But it can sometimes be difficult to tell if a hedgehog is struggling. And as a result, from time to time, perfectly healthy hedgehogs are brought into wildlife centres by well-meaning members of the public.

Our rule of thumb is that if a hedgehog is very obviously in danger, sick or injured, or under 300g, it should definitely be admitted. If the hog weighs 300–500g between mid October and the end of February, it can be housed as naturally as possible indoors (in a garage or similar) and given food daily.

For detailed guidance on this, read our Caring for Autumn juvenile hedgehogs (PDF 416KB).

Above this weight, our guidelines recommend leaving the hedgehog where it has been found, so that the centres can focus their efforts on the ones that are genuinely in need.

How you can help

The Wildlife Centres request that all shredded paper should be long-cut, never cross-cut.

In Norfolk, our East Winch Wildlife Centre is looking for donations of dog food and old newspaper, (please drop off at the centre). Please visit their Amazon wish list for more details.

In Cheshire, our Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre is hoping for donations of cat food, mealworms and shredded long-cut paper. Read more information on the donations that would help, and how you can send them. If you have paper to donate, please drop it off at the centre.

In East Sussex, our Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre wants to help it’s hedgies with more cat food and Spikes food. Please visit their Amazon wish list for more details:

In Somerset, our West Hatch Wildlife Centre would like Mealworms, Spikes food and shredded long-cut paper (please drop the paper off at the centre)! Please visit their Amazon wish list for more details.

Learn more about helping hedgehogs with our advice on garden hedgehogs.

If you’re concerned about a wild animal’s welfare, contact our emergency line on 0300 123 4999.

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