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  • Writer's pictureWatlington Climate Action Group

Save our Hedgehogs!

Top Tips for Helping Hedgehogs in Winter:

Hedgehogs usually hibernate from late December/early January, so they are now busy looking for food to make sure they put on enough weight to survive the winter.

This puts them at risk from cars on the roads with the darker evenings.


1. Do drive carefully at night, particularly on quiet roads.

2. Do put out some food and fresh drinking water in your garden each day at dusk.

3. Do consider putting a hedgehog house in a quiet part of your garden

Do watch out for any injured hedgehogs, or ones smaller than 600g after early December – they will need to be taken to Tiggywinkles (01844 292292).


1. Don’t put out milk for them – this makes them very ill

2. Don’t pick up fit, uninjured hedgehogs (unless underweight)

3. Don’t light a bonfire before checking for hedgehogs inside it.

4. Don’t fork over compost heaps in case a hedgehog is living in it

5. Don’t use slug pellets or other chemicals on your garden

6. Don’t spray hedgehogs with dog/cat flea spray.

When do hedgehogs hibernate?

Typically, hedgehogs hibernate from late December / early January until late March time. However, this is very dependent on the weather and the individual hedgehog, as some will hibernate earlier or later and some not at all!

Handling Tips

If you find an injured or underweight hedgehog, wearing thick gardening gloves, pick it up by holding it in both hands around the middle, scooping it up. Put it into a cardboard box lined with newspaper and give a small towel or tea towel for it to hide under.

If your hedgehog is very poorly or is cold, you can also give it a hot water bottle or a drinks bottle filled with warm water and wrapped in a tea towel, to snuggle up to. If you will have it for any period of time before it can be taken to a rescue centre, then offer dog or cat food in a shallow bowl, plus a non-tip dish of freshwater.

Hedgehog Fleas and Ticks

Hedgehog fleas do not live on dogs, cats, humans or inside houses, they are host specific, so your pet cannot catch fleas from a hedgehog.

I have seen a hedgehog out during the day, what should I do?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal and only come out at night. Generally, any hedgehog out during the day is probably in trouble and will need to be picked up and taken to a wildlife rescue centre.

Can I move a hedgehog that is hibernating in an unsuitable place?

No, they really should be left alone. A hedgehog that has gone into hibernation uses up valuable body fats if they are disturbed. If you do accidentally disturb a hibernation nest, cover it back over with a thick layer of dry leaves and perhaps leave some dog food and water nearby, so if the hedgehog does wake up, he can easily find something to eat before he goes to find a new hibernation spot and rebuilds his nest.

Do I need to clean out my hedgehog box?

The only time that you could clean out a hedgehog box in early spring after hedgehogs have woken from hibernation and before they start to mate and look for maternity nests, which really means April time only. Check the box carefully during the dark evening, so any hedgehog using it for a day nest has had a chance to go off hunting, and if it is in use, then you should leave it alone.

How big does a hedgehog need to be to hibernate?

How do I know if a hedgehog is too small to hibernate? Hedgehogs should weigh around 600 grams by early December in order to have enough body fat to survive hibernation. From early November you might want to keep an eye on any visiting hedgehogs to see how much they weigh. It wouldn’t disturb them too much to weigh one on your kitchen scales. At the start of November, they should weigh around 500 grams, or they may need to go to a wildlife hospital for overwintering.

How long should I continue to feed a hedgehog into the winter months?

Autumn and early winter is the essential time to feed hedgehogs in your garden, as they need to put on enough weight to reach a safe hibernation weight before late December.

I have a hedgehog sleeping on my lawn, is it ok?

No, hedgehogs will only sleep in a nest during the day, so any hedgehog lying out on the lawn will be very poorly and will need to be picked up and taken to your nearest wildlife hospital as soon as possible.

What should I feed a hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are insectivores, so the best diet is the bugs and grubs in your garden, which will also help keep the ‘pests’ down. Therefore, the best way to feed hedgehogs would actually be to encourage more insects into your garden.

Feeding hedgehogs in your garden should only be a supplement to their natural diet, or to help them during the harder winter months, so it is important to not offer too much of any one type of food.

Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so milk can make them very ill and should never be offered. Instead, put out a dish of freshwater each night. Hedgehogs are active during the night, so the best time to put out food is just after dusk when they are starting to search for food. The Autumn and Winter months are the most important for them to find food to put on enough weight before hibernation, so always make sure you put out food at this time of year.


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