Hedgehogs orphans

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Hedgehogs orphans


Hedgehogs can be born twice a year, covered by 100 spines,
blind during their first two weeks of life. They are fed by
mother’s milk for 4 to 8 weeks. Afterwards their mother is
showing how to find food. After two months the hedgehog
mother stops caring for her hoglets and let them live on
their own. Around 90 % of hoglets will not survive their
first year….

Some hedgehogs are born late in the year – too late to
reach a suitable weight for hibernation. Young hedgehogs
found alone and weighing less than 450 g (1 lb) have not
built up sufficient fat reserves to keep them alive
throughout their winter sleep and are almost certain to die


If you find one of these little hedgehogs after the end of
September take them inside and give them plenty of food. A
garage or shed is ideal. Put them in a box with clean fresh
hay, crumpled newspapers or dry leaves. If the hedgehog is
very small keep it warm with a hot water bottle wrapped in
a blanket.

Although it is traditional to give hedgehogs (Shakespeare
called them ‘hedgepigs‘ or ‘urchins‘) in
the garden milk and bread, this is not a good enough diet
if the animal is not getting other protein as well. A
hedgehog in captivity should have a diet of minced meat,
fresh liver and tinned dog or cat food (nof fish based) and
other types of animal protein like scrambled eggs.

The diet should be varied and include bread, bran, crushed
dog biscuits, etc. Fresh water should always be available.

On all this good food the animal should reach a weight of
450-680 g (1-1,5 lb) when it can be released if there is a
period of relatively warm dry weather so that it can build
a winter nest for itself and hibernate.

And after
the hibernation?


Hedgehogs are waking up from the winter sleep
(hibernation), when the temperature raises to around 10
degrees Celsius. They are very thirsty, and desperately try
to find something to drink. Milk given at that time can
even cause their death. More than on searching for food
they are concentrated on searching for the love partner. It
can take several hours of running around a female before
the male is admitted. His role ends up here. Female is
searching for a safe and calm place for the nest for her
and small hoglets, which are born around 30 days after.


Hoglets and mature hedgehogs are gaining in weight. Average
meal consists of more than 40 grams of food.


Hedgehogs are mainly concentrated on eating! They can eat
up to 200grams of food per night. Their lower weight limit
is 500 grams to be able to survive the winter. Adult
hedgehogs can weight up to 2.5 kg. They are building their
winter nest (hibernaculum), bringing small pieces of
branches and grasses. Sometimes the nest can have an
isolation layer of 50 cm. They can also sleep under wooden
steps or in other man made places.


Hedgehogs are sleeping in their nests. Body temperature
drops down to 9 degrees Celsius. Breathing 1 to 10 times
per minute. Heart beats are 1/10 of their normal rate.
Hedgehog will wake up few times, but does not eat anything
and falls asleep again. A hedgehog waken up from his winter
sleep too early will starve to death…