🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A Hedgehog in your home

Caring for baby or under-weight Hedgehogs 

 Initially the food should be offered in a dropper or a plastic syringe. Each young hedgehog will need to be fed every few hours.

If you find a baby hedgehog on a summer evening, it is probably perfectly all right and is best left alone. But a hedgehog found wandering around during the day is likely to be ill or, if it's very small, might be a youngster trying to feed and fatten up before the onset of winter. It's unlikely to survive without human help, so you should take it to a vet or try to look after it yourself. 

If you find a nest of baby hedgehogs that are still blind and the mother is nowhere to be found, there is little chance that they will live, but it's obviously worth a try. I never advocate taking wild animals out of their environment so please make absolutely sure that the mother is not around by waiting until dusk to she if she might return. If she's not back by then, it's unlikely that she is anywhere nearby or might have been killed and only then may you try and rear the babies yourself. 

If they are old enough to have brown spines, it's more hopeful, but young hedgehogs are very vulnerable until they are at least 6-8 weeks old. 

The mother's milk is obviously the ideal food: it contains immune proteins which protect the babies against a variety of infections, and nothing can adequately take its place. But a variety of liquid foods may help to keep the youngsters going - give them Complan baby food, sheep's or goat's milk (not cow's milk, which is indigestible to baby hedgehogs.) 

Initially the food should be offered in a dropper or a plastic syringe. Each young hedgehog will need to be fed every few hours.

 When they're old enough they can be fed from a bowl

When they reach three weeks old and weigh about 100g, the babies should be offered a wider variety of food. Crumbled biscuits moistened with milk, bread soaked in gravy and scrambled eggs are all suitable. they can gradually move on to puppy food; two or three tablespoonfuls twice a day should be enough. As they get older - and hungrier! - this can be mixed with table scraps or tinned dog food, which my hedgies absolutely loved! 

But caring for young hedgehogs isn't just a matter of food. Hedgehogs are not well insulated and when their temperature drops , digestion becomes slower, movements slow down and gradually they become colder and less active until they die. Warmth will help to reverse this fatal tendency, but not a sharply-focused heat source such as a lamp. the best idea is a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel and frequently refilled to keep the temperature constant. 

Depending on how many hedgehogs there are, a cage or box about a square meter in area, floored with earth, newspaper or an old carpet, will provide temporary quarters. Remember that the bedding will be need to be changed DAILY. And also be aware that hedgehogs are very good at digging AND climbing! Unless the box has smooth sides, it's a good idea to edge it with something along the top. 

If your young hedgehogs prosper, you can release them into the wild when it reaches the necessary weight, I'd say about 450g, the weight they must reach before it's safe for them to hibernate, otherwise wait until spring before releasing them. 
Most of the info and pics from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"

It takes dedication and commitment to look after hedgehogs taken out of the wild, so be sure you're up to the task before considering it. 


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