Probably the most loved of all UK mammals, their low stature and tendency to freeze and roll up in the face of danger leaves them incredibly vulnerable to harm from man-made hazards. 

Whilst, as the stereotype suggests, cars are a common threat, the most common injuries they experience come from dogs and strimmers. They also commonly suffer from intestinal parasites which can make them very unwell.


When to rescue

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A hedgehog out during the day

Hedgehogs are generally strictly nocturnal so one out during the day will usually need help, especially if it appears to be 'sunbathing' or is inactive. The only exception to this rule is a nesting female who may sometimes come out in daylight to gather nesting materials. If in doubt, contact us or your local hedgehog rescue for advice.


Any hedgehog with an obvious injury

If you can see a wound or injury, the hedgehog will need urgent help.


A hedgehog with maggots or fly eggs on it

Hedgehogs are very prone to fly-strike where flies lay eggs (which look like grains of rice) on them which then hatch into maggots. This is a fatal condition without urgent help.


A hedgehog losing its spines or with crusty skin

Hedgehogs can suffer with mange or ringworm which can make their skin crusty and their spines fall out. This can reduce their defences against predators as well as leave them vulnerable to secondary infections.


Any hedgehog which has been attacked by a dog

It can be really difficult to spot small puncture wounds in between their spines but just one could prove fatal if it gets infected or attracts flies. Always get the hedgehog checked over by a rescue.


A hedgehog caught up in netting or stuck in a drain

The hedgehog will need to be freed and checked for injuries by a rescue.


A hedgehog hit by a car

The hedgehog will need to be checked for injuries by a rescue.


When to take other action

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A lone baby away from its nest

It's likely the baby may need help but it could also be that Mum dropped the baby while moving it. Observe from a distance and contact a wildlife rescue for advice.


A small hedgehog out in autumn/winter

Hedgehogs need to be around 450g to survive hibernation. But when they hibernate is variable. There's more information here.


When to leave alone

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A nest of babies with no Mum

It's normal for Mum to spend time away from the nest. Observe from a distance and contact a wildlife rescue for advice if Mum doesn't return.


Capture, Containment and Care


If you need to pick up an adult hedgehog it is best to do so using leather gardening gloves or a thick towel to protect you from their spines. Place the hedgie in a cardboard box or pet carrier. If using a cardboard box, be sure to provide air holes and be aware that hedgehogs are surprisingly good climbers so you’ll need a box with either high sides or a lid. A towel on the bottom will make them more comfortable. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away.


It is not generally necessary or advisable to provide food and water if you are getting the hedgehog to a rescue quickly. Never offer a hedgehog cow’s milk or alcohol. 


If the hedgehog is injured or collapsed supplementary heat may be helpful. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the hedgehog can get away from the heat if it wants to.


NB: this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours or overnight. If you are not able to get the animal to a wildlife rescue promptly, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.


You can find rescues in your area by putting your location into the search facility at directory.helpwildlife.co.uk. If you are unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, you can contact us via helpwildlife.co.uk/helpdesk and our volunteers will give you advice and support.