What the RSCPA say you should do if you spot a hedgehog in your garden

editorial image

I hate to be the one to bring this up, but we only have a few weeks left of summer. And what a disappointing summer weather-wise it has been.

In just a few weeks time, leaves will start falling off trees, the air will bring a slither of bitterness to it, and our wildlife will start preparing itself for hibernation - hedgehogs, in particular.

But hedgehogs aren’t going anywhere just yet - in fact, you still have chance to see one of these elusive and fascinating creatures in your garden, if you are lucky.

Our wildlife centres up and down the country have been dealing with large numbers of hedgehog patients, many of which are brought in by members of the public who see them out and about and think they veterinary attention.

More people are looking out for wildlife, and we think that’s great. However, we do get some hedgehogs brought into us which aren’t injured and don’t necessarily need bringing in.

As a rule of thumb if you see a hedgehog out during the day then it’s likely there is something wrong, as hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures.

On occasions you may find an adult hedgehog out at dusk and dawn - this may be a restless female about to give birth or a female with hoglets searching for additional food. But if they appear active and there is nothing obviously wrong - for example the hedgehog is injured, circling or staggering or in immediate danger - they should be left alone.

Sadly, as with many wild animals, those that are removed from their natural habitat suffer from the stress of handling and, without having learnt survival tactics, may even die following their release back into the wild.

We appreciate that it may be difficult to know what to do if you see a baby hedgehog. Some will have been orphaned, and others may have had their nest destroyed by mistake.

If a member of public uncovers a nest full of hoglets, we recommend that they cover it up again, as their mother will very likely be foraging nearby.

Some of these animals are perfectly healthy but have been removed from their natural habitat by well-meaning members of the public who fear they are in danger or have been abandoned by their mothers. In many cases, the mothers are in fact close-by and simply hiding but will not return if a human is present.

So if you do come across a nest of infant hedgehogs, be careful not to disturb them as this may lead to the mother abandoning her young.

We think it’s important to make people aware because some people do not know what to do if they see a hedgehog, and whether they need help or not.

But if in doubt, you can call our 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.