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)