Disturbed nest, orphaned hoglet

Hedgehog nest in pile of leaves
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Summer means orphan season and a flurry of calls about abandoned hoglets.

Hedgehog nests are not strong and sturdy, they are frequently just a pile of leaves, in long grass or underneath a large plant. Underneath sheds and decking are also favourite spots.

I received a call after this nest was disturbed by someone raking leaves in their garden.

If a nest is disturbed, mum may kill or abandon the hoglets. Sadly mum did not return for one of the two hoglets.

The best way to prevent this happening is to avoid disturbing a nest in the first place. Learn to love your grass long. Cherish piles of leaves. Put off dismantling the shed.

If you do accidentally disturb a nest, cover it back up straight away.  DO NOT touch the hoglets. Wait and see if mum returns. She may return to the nest or may return and move the nest and babies to another site.

If she does not return and the hoglets are ‘peeping’ or are venturing out of the nest, then they will be in need of rescue.

There is a great page here where you can listen to the sound that hoglets make when they are in distress or hungry (as well as other fascinating hedgehog noises!)

You will find more information about how to find a hedgehog rescue here.

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Hedgehog nest in a pile of leaves

Every year I rescue hoglets that have been abandoned or where something else has happened to mum – she could have been killed on a road or be injured or sick.

Hand rearing hoglets is expert work and you should always seek expert advice from a. hedgehog rescue. It is not something to take on without any experience.

This little hoglet is around 11 days old. It can curl up but its eyes are not yet open. It will need hand feeding by syringe until it is able to eat by itself. They are fed a lactose-free formula and will then be gradually weaned onto a puppy mousse when their teeth emerge.

Baby hoglet in hand June 2016

Orphaned hoglet about 11 days old. Her eyes are still closed.

Once it can feed on its own, human contact will be reduced. The aim is for the hoglets to be released back to the wild once they are a suitable age and weight for release.

Pair of baby hoglets by Little Silver Hedgehog

Whole litters may need to be rescued if something has happened to mum

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. I have rehabilitated over 350 hedgehogs since 2012. I also work hard to raise awareness of the plight of hedgehogs and how you can help them. My work is entirely self funded. You can support my work by donating or supporting my jewellery, which raises funds for the rescue work.

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Hedgehog romance

Wild hedgehogs courting
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It is that wonderful time of year when hedgehogs are courting. You’ll hear them before you see them – they make a really loud ‘huffing’ snorting sound that can keep your neighbours awake at night! Courting generally happens between April and September but, milder weather means that litters are now sometimes being born even in Winter.

David Attenborough sums it all up perfectly

Hedgehogs normally have four to five babies. They stay in the nest for around 4 weeks and then will accompany mum on foraging trips for around a fortnight, before leaving to go off on in their own directions.

Mum and baby hedgehog on patio small

A female hedgehog with her baby on my patio

It is very important to avoid disturbing a hedgehog nest because mum may kill or eat her babies. Avoid garden maintenance, such as removing sheds or outbuildings, during the nesting season. If you do disturb a nest accidentally, cover it straight back up. Do not touch the babies. Check from a distance to see if mum returns. If she does not and you hear ‘peeping’ (like a baby bird noise) from the nest, the babies are in need of rescue. Seek advice from a hedgehog rescue urgently. Do not touch the babies with your bare hands and you need to keep them warm.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. My work is entirely self-funded. To support my work please visit www.littlesilverhedgehog.etsy.com. You can also follow my hedgehog rescue stories at www.facebook.com/littlesilverhedgehog