I have disturbed a hedgehog’s nest and there is a mother and babies in the nest – what should I do?

Mothers with hoglets can be very unpredictable. Some will turn on their young and kill them; others will move them to a new nest. If the nest has only just been slightly disturbed mum may continue to live in the nest with the hoglets or she may move into a new nest, returning at night to suckle the hoglets and then over a period of several days move the hoglets to the new nest.

To check whether she is returning place a small twig or leaf over the nest entrance so she will have to brush it aside as she comes and goes. This will tell you the nest is being visited. Do not keep disturbing the nest and do not search for the new one as this causes further disturbance and stress to the mother. Provide water and a dish of meat based dog or cat food nearby so she can spend more time suckling her young rather than searching for food. If it does not appear that mum is returning then the hoglets should be rescued. This is also the case if they are heard squeaking or coming out of the nest.

If the garden has been “made over” and the hedgehog’s habitat destroyed than it may be that the nest and family will need to be relocated. If this is the case do catch the mother before you catch the hoglets – she is the more likely one to do a runner and not return. Place them together in a high-sided box – otherwise mum may escape – and contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for a local hedgehog rehabilitator.

There are so many scenarios that it is best to contact someone for advice before you take action unless it is obvious that the nest will need to be relocated in which case catch the mother before she runs away.

What food should I offer to my hedgehog visitors?


The best things to offer are Hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food or complete cat biscuits. The only drink that should be offered is water (especially in dry weather and when offering dry food).

There’s a hedgehog in my garden sunbathing, is that ok?

No, it isn’t. Hedgehogs’ shouldn’t sunbathe and if you see one doing this it is in urgent need of help. Please use gardening gloves or a folded towel to pick it up, pop it into a high sided box with a towel or fleece in the bottom, keep it warm on a covered warm hot water bottle (even in hot weather), offer suitable food and water (see above) and then call Hamworthy Hedgehog Rescue on 07587 925 476 for further advice as soon as possible.


I’ve seen a hedgehog that looks ‘drunk’, is that ok?

Again, no, it isn’t ok. Hedgehogs in this state are actually hypothermic and in urgent need of help. Please offer the first aid described above and call us as soon as possible.


Do all hedgehogs have fleas and do they need them?

Not all hedgehogs have fleas; many of those rescued have none. However, hedgehogs do not NEED their fleas to survive, that’s an old wives tale. Hedgehog fleas are host specific so while they may jump onto a cat or dog, they won’t infest them.


My Hedgehog is Covered in Blobs!


Ticks are common especially in Dorset where they are everywhere. Some carry Lyme disease but we don’t have an issue with Babesiosis which is common on mainland Europe. There is no evidence so far that either of these diseases can affect hedgehogs. Research is underway.

A healthy adult hog should be able to cope with a few ticks, probably up to 10 but when they are covered in the things they need help, usually because there is something else wrong with them which has prevented them grooming.

Now, the one thing that can cause problems is how the ticks are removed. If you stress the tick in any way it will spit its stomach contents back into the host causing blood poisoning. Stressing a tick can be caused by:

preventing it breathing by covering it in oils, creams, varnishes etc
burning it off with a cigarette
pulling it off with tweezers which squash the body
picking it off with fingernails

We always recommend removal with either a tick hook or a lasso which, when used correctly causes no problems for tick or host. Once removed, always squash the tick by treading on it and doing the twist. They are very resilient. If you don’t destroy the head part they can regrow the body. We have also seen one come out of a freezer after 6 months and start walking around once thawed.



Help! I’ve harmed a hedgehog whilst strimming.

Undoubtedly one of the most worrying calls we receive. PLEASE check areas thoroughly before strimming or mowing. These injuries are usually horrific and the hedgehog often has to be put to sleep, of course many are killed instantly with this kind of accident. Do check for hoglets as the nest you have strimmed could be a nursery nest.



Are Hedgehogs meant to be out in the daylight?

Not usually no. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they shouldn’t really be seen out in daylight hours. Some of the exceptions to this are pregnant females gathering nesting materials just before she gives birth, or a new ‘Mum’ taking a break from the nest to get food and water while her young sleep. Sometimes, when the nights are short, a hungry hedgehog may forage around dusk and dawn. However, these hedgehogs would move quickly with purpose. If a hedgehog is lethargic, lay out, has flies around it, is wobbly, or gives you any other cause for concern, please call us for advice ASAP on 07587 925 476.


I want to Foster/Over Winter a Hedgehog

Are you sure you understand what you are asking for? We only send hedgehogs out for fostering or overwintering from November onwards. These animals must be kept indoors somewhere quiet. They must be cleaned out, fed, watered and weighed daily, then left alone. We want them wild when they are returned to us in the April/May for release where they came from.

– If you have children they must be made to understand that these animals are not to be played with, taken out of their cages, taken to school nor shown to friends.

– Wherever they are kept indoors it must be away from household noise and pets. No radios, TVs, washing machines.

– You will be required to email weights weekly without fail.

– Whilst they are with you you may not go away and leave them alone nor hand them to somebody else to look after.

– We will not send hedgehogs out further than 10 miles from the centre. Please do not ask, the answer will always be no.


Can I Keep a Wild Hedgehog as a Pet?

No you may not, they are a wild animal and covered under the Animal Welfare Act.

You may be confusing our wild hogs with the exotics bred for the pet market. These animals are expensive to maintain and need somebody who knows what they are doing. Do not even think about getting one until you have done a lot of research.


My dog doesn’t like hedgehogs in the garden, can you move it?

The answer is that unless you are prepared to hedgehog proof the entire garden, there is no point in moving the resident hedgehogs as others from the local population will very likely move into the vacated area. If you are prepared to do this work, the best thing is to contact a local carer to see if they can safely relocate the hedgehog (avoiding baby season). Otherwise, training the dog to leave hedgehogs alone is the ideal solution, taking the dog out for its ‘after dark’ run in the garden on a lead, using a muzzle and making lots of noise before the dog goes out to warn the hedgehog something is happening can help. Hedgehogs often have a routine so if you see a hedgehog about at a certain time it is likely to be around near that time the next night – avoid letting the dog out at those times.


I want a hedgehog for my garden; can I just take one from the wild?

No! Please don’t do this. It’s great that you want to encourage hedgehogs into your garden, but taking one from an area where it knows food and water sources to an unknown area isn’t fair. More worryingly, it could have dependent young in a nest, without its return, the nest will fail and the young won’t survive. Finally, if hedgehogs aren’t already in your garden, there might be a good reason for this. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society have a leaflet available on this subject on here , or contact them for paper copy.


Can I ‘mark’ my hedgehogs?

We’re pretty sure a hedgehog would rather not be marked, but if you are going to do it, please do ensure that you use a non-toxic water-based marker and mark just a few spines of the hedgehog. Keep the mark away from the hedgehog’s face and mark it in the garden on the ground rather than picking it up/bringing it indoors. Please don’t use red as people may mistake it for blood and ‘rescue’ it.  Do not make hedgehog conspicuous to predators.  We have seen some very sad images of poor hedgehogs practically covered in paint!  If you are watching the hedgehogs on a wildlife camera you will often be able to tell them apart over time without the need for marking.


Can We Visit the Hedgehogs?

Hamworthy Hedgehog Rescue is not open to the public. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly we would need a zoo licence with all the facilities that would involve. Second, the animals, they are with us because they are sick, once well they are released back to the wild and they need to be frightened of humans so they run away.

Wild animals get extremely stressed in human presence and it does not do a lot for their recovery. We also have animals here that have transmissable diseases and some of those can be passed to humans.