Animal name: Hedgehog
Habitat: Green spaces, woodland
Lifespan: 2-3 years
Active: At night, in summer
Family: Male hedgehog is called a boar. Female hedgehog is called sow. Babies/young are called hoglets
Where do you find hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are typically found in gardens, parks, woodland and green spaces across the country. They thrive in areas with lots of bushes and areas with thick undergrowth. Despite living in close proximity to humans, you may not come across a hedgehog as they are nocturnal creatures.
A healthy hedgehog is brown all over, with a thick layer of prickly spines covering the top of their body. They have a furry brown coat covering the rest of their body and can weigh anywhere in the region of 500g to one kilo.
What do they eat?
A hedgehog’s diet consists of insects such as beetles, worms, caterpillars and slugs. They enjoy eating all kinds of bugs, fruits or animal flesh that they come across.
Hedgehogs can also eat cat and dog food as long as it is not fish-based. You should never feed hedgehogs, milk or bread as they cannot digest it and it upsets their stomachs.
If feeding a hedgehog in your garden, there is also hedgehog specific food which can be bought from pet shops or online.
What threats do hedgehogs face?
What threats do hedgehogs face? Hedgehogs face threats from common objects in people’s gardens such as ponds, netting and slug pellets.
In the wild the main threats they face come from litter and traffic. Hedgehogs can also hide in bonfires or in long grass which can lead to them becoming injured.
What common problems/reasons lead to hedgehogs being cared by the Scottish SPCA?
Hedgehogs come into our care if they have failed to hibernate. This is because the hoglet was born in a late litter or doesn’t have the necessary fat stored.
They come to us when there is an obvious injury that requires veterinary treatment and care from our team.
We often care for hedgehogs who are underweight and/or lethargic which are common signs of them having an underlying condition requiring treatment.
Hedgehogs also come into our care if they are spotted out and about during the day. They are nocturnal so any hedgehog out during daylight hours likely needs our help.
I've come across...
An injured or sick hedgehog
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. If you see one out during the day, displaying any abnormal behaviours, showing signs of injury, is underweight or lethargic then it is likely unwell, struggling to find food and needs our help.
Hedgehog birthing season falls during the summer months so you may come across a pregnant female out during the day looking for food and nesting materials. Whilst this may usually be a sign of illness, it is normal behaviour for pregnant hogs to be out foraging before they give birth. If the hedgehog is in good body condition, appears well and is not displaying any other issues, they must be left alone and monitored.
Never lift a pregnant hog as they can give birth spontaneously due to stress and may kill their own young as a result of this.
If you see a hedgehog out in the winter months you should call our helpline on 03000 999 999.
If possible, try to safely contain the hedgehog in a secure box until an animal rescue officer arrives. Although their spikes seem intimidating they can be safely picked up using gardening gloves or a thick towel.
If you spot a hoglet you should monitor them from a distance and see if the mother returns. The mother does not stay in the same location as her young and will have a separate area nearby.
If the mother does not return within 24 hours then you should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
Dead hedgehog or hoglet
If you find a dead hedgehog or hoglet, please contact your local council to dispose of the body safely.
Hedgehogs living in my garden
If a hedgehog is living in your garden you could provide cat or dog food or hedgehog specific food and some fresh water for them. Do not feed them milk or any food that is fish-based.
Keep your garden tidy of netting, paddling pools and secure hot tubs.
Ensure there is a suitable gap in your garden for the hedgehog to come and go as they wish so they are not stuck there.
Logs, twigs and leaf piles make great natural homes for hedgehogs.
Check long grass for hedgehogs or hoglets before cutting or strimming your garden.
If you have a pond in your garden, it’s a good idea to create a ramp as an escape route in case any hedgehogs fall in. They are actually good swimmers but will need a hand to climb out of the water.
If you plan to do any garden renovation, check the area thoroughly for signs of hedgehogs. If you discover any signs of a potential resident hedgehog, then phone the helpline on 03000 999 999 for advice. Do not disturb them otherwise without seeking advice.
Hedgehogs are protected by British law under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it illegal to kill or capture them using certain methods.
They are also protected by the Wild Mammals Protection Act (1996) making it illegal to treat a hedgehog cruelly.
Hedgehogs are also on Britain's Red List meaning their population is in decline and the species current status is "Vulnerable". This is mainly due to habitat destruction, loss of hedgerows/woodland and being preyed on. This in turn is pushing hedgehogs into more urban areas where human disturbance is much higher and large numbers of hedgehogs are being killed in road traffic accidents.