Could you foster a hedgehog?

pic: HART Animal Rescue


A Hampshire based wildlife rescue charity has issued advice on helping hedgehogs to survive winter and is looking for people to foster the little creatures through the cold months ahead.

HART Wildlife Rescue say that currently, hedgehogs – including young juveniles born during September and October – will be trying to fatten up for the winter hibernation period. Hedgehogs should weigh around 600g before hibernating if they are to survive, and the charity is keen to educate members of the public about this.

HART (Hampshire Animal Rescue Team) advises that anyone who sees a hedgehog they suspect to be under-weight to pick it up carefully and weigh it. If the animal is under the 600g threshold, it recommends taking into a wildlife hospital such as HART’s own hospital located in Alton, so that they can be cared for during the long, cold winter months. The hospital will admit the animal and either treat them on-site, health-checking them, and keeping them fed and watered until it is safe to release them; or they will go out to HART’s network of animal foster carers who will look after them in their own homes during the hibernation period.

Lauren Gender-Sherry, Hospital Manager said

Apart from being underweight, the other thing to look out for is dehydration. This can be a really serious issue if it isn’t treated quickly. We’re urging anyone who sees a hedgehog that looks wobbly or lethargic to take the animal to a wildlife rescue. Of course, they can feed the hedgehogs water themselves, but usually dehydration is the result of more serious problems that would need specialist treatment.

Lauren continued “We’re so busy with hedgehogs this time of year and expect to get busier as the weather gets colder, with animals that wouldn’t be able to survive hibernation. We take in as many animals as we can but this does mean lots of little mouths to feed, and as we rely purely on donations from the public this can get very expensive. We have lots of kind-hearted foster carers that help us to take in more animals, and this really is key to helping as many animals as possible”

The charity says people who would like to help HART Wildlife Rescue to feed the animals in its care, or are interested in volunteering or fostering hedgehogs, should visit their website HART is funded entirely by donations – which are welcome – and relies on volunteers to ensure that the running of the hospital and local shop is smooth and efficient.  Founded in 1996 the charity treats over 1,000 wild animal casualties – injured, sick or abandoned wild animals would otherwise suffer long and painful deaths, or would be put to sleep unnecessarily. Over half their patients make a full recovery and are returned to the wild.

Tips on helping Hedgehogs:

if you have a resident hedgehog in your garden you can put down dishes of cat-food (not fish flavour) and water. You can also make sure that there are gaps between yours and your neighbour’s gardens so that they can come and go throughout the night – hedgehogs will travel around 2 miles a night if they have accessible routes.  While gardening check anything you are about to burn, be extra-careful when gardening to avoid disturbing any nests, and if in doubt please do call a wildlife rescue or the RSPCA who will be happy to give advice on how to help.