This list addresses the most important questions which will help to assess rescued hedgehogs and provide them with the correct initial and on-going care and treatment.
- Date > if the hedgehog has already been in care for some time go to 12.
- Time of day > daylight, dusk or night?
- Daytime > being active during the day is always an alarm signal!
- At dusk and at night > well nourished and uninjured hedgehogs should be taken straight back to where they were found.
- Did a dog or children disturb the nest? > does not need help unless there are hoglets.
- Was the hedgehog lying out in the open? > it will need help.
- Assessing age according to weight and approximate body length
- Hoglet > approx. 15 to 120g approx. 5 to 10 cm in length > go to 11.
- Juvenile > approx. 120 to 700g approx. 11 to 25 cm in length
- Adult > approx. 800 – 1500 g up to 30 cm in length
- If you don’t have any scales, have a guess by comparing with a piece of meat or a packet of butter. Size: is it bigger or smaller than a tennis ball or a man’s fist?
- If the hedgehog feels colder than your hand it is hypothermic > wrap a hand-hot water bottle in a towel, put the hedgehog on it and cover it.
- BEWARE: syringe feeding and any medical treatment must only be undertaken once normal body temperature (approx. 36 °C) has been reached.
- Sausage-shaped, with a dip at the neck (sign of starvation), sunken flanks, if you can feel the ribs > malnourished, thin hedgehog
- Pear-shaped > narrow at the head, broader behind > well nourished hedgehog
- No > weak, sick or perhaps injured animal
- If they look like slits and are barely visible > weak, sick animal
- If so where? A small wound or severe injury?> go to the vet
- Fleas > treat with flea spray (not powder) don’t bath weak hedgehogs!
- Ticks > pull out with forceps without twisting the tick
- Fly eggs and maggots? > remove with forceps immediately
- Male: button of skin where you think the navel would be
- Female: vulva immediately in front of the anus > this is especially important in summer as females may have babies left behind which need to be found.
- A nest found with hoglets > cover nest immediately and walk away!
- Hoglets found outside the nest? > seek expert help at once!
- Were the babies seen for several hours or even days? > seek expert help at once!
- How old is/are the hoglet(s)? > see table on age determination
- Are the babies cold? > hypothermic > seek expert help at once – first warm them up! then toilet them then feed milk replacement formula – or fennel tea if none available!
- Where is the mother hedgehog? > if possible go and look for her!
Table on age determination for hoglets
|Age||Skin colour||Spines||Fur||Eyes Ears||Teeth||Weight (g)|
|At birth||pink||white||none||shut||none||12 – 25|
|1 week||pink||a few dark||none||shut||none||30 – 50|
|2 weeks||grey||dark||bit of fuzz||opening||none||60 – 80|
|3 weeks||grey||dark||visible fur||open||erupting||100 – 130|
|4 weeks||grey||dark||thick fur||open||fully erupted||140 – 180|
© Monika Neumeier
- Where was the hedgehog kept?
- Cold or warm room, outside on a balcony etc? > correct: hedgehogs which need help must always been kept in a warm room at about 20°C
- Accommodation: box, hutch, cage? > correct: a large container lined with newspaper and a nest box with nesting material and entrance hole.
- What do the droppings look like?
- Colour and consistency? > Healthy: black/brown formed and sausage-shaped
- green, slimy, bloody, runny? > indicates internal parasite burden or bacterial gastrointestinal infection.
- Has the hedgehog been to a vet?
- What medication has been given?
- Rehydration fluid? Vitamin B? > often a life saver in weak animals!
- Worming? > only in animals which will tolerate it!
- What wormers were given? > First choice: active ingredient Levamisole, 2 doses 48 hours apart injected sub cut into the hind third of the body.
- What other medication has been given?
- What was the hedgehog given to eat and drink?
- unseasoned scrambled eggs, cooked mince, tinned cat or dog food with a high meat content, boiled egg, water > correct!
- Milk products of all sorts > wrong: hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, causes diarrhoea, can be life threatening.
- Fruit and vegetables > wrong: no nourishment for the hedgehog!
- How much was the hedgehog given – how much has he eaten?
- A teaspoonful, a dessert spoonful, level or heaped? > possibly too little food?
- Enough to fill a 150g yoghurt pot > correct!
- Weight gain? > should be: 10 to 20g per day i.e. 70 to 100g per week
Further information on hedgehog care (for hedgehog finders and animal shelter staff)