Keep an eye on your hedgehogs!
Hedgehogs in May by Kay Bullen
Most of the hedgehogs out and about now will hopefully be in good condition and will have replaced any weight losses from their hibernation.
So the next step in the hedgehog calendar is the breeding season. Courtship is a noisy affair with lots of huffing and puffing and circling around (the male circles the female). Once completed the pair will part company and perhaps never meet again. After a pregnancy of around 32 days 4-5 hoglet will be born in a nursery nest.
It is very important, especially at this time of year, that hedgehog nests are not disturbed. Disturbance may cause the females to abandon or even kill their hoglets. Nursery nests can be almost anywhere, under an old shed, under clumps of garden plants, even under old rugs or polythene used as a weed suppressor. So if you know you have a hedgehog that is a regular visitors then it is likely to be a female rather than a nomadic male. In which case do take care and perhaps watch at night to see where she is coming from so you have a rough idea of where the nest may be.
Female hedgehogs are often like clockwork, they appear from roughly the same direction at around the same time each night. She may miss a few nights after giving birth preferring to stay with her hoglets night and day.
Sometimes females are seen in the early morning gathering bedding, this could well be a female about to give birth, so again note where she is heading so you know the location of her nest. Perhaps have a word with a neighbour if it appears the nest may be next door. This depends on the neighbour – they are not all wildlife friendly so use your judgement. This is one of the few times when healthy hedgehogs are seen in the day and when they do not need rescuing. They will be busy and moving with purpose – so enjoy the opportunity to observe, whilst not intruding.
If you need advice or find a sick or injured hedgehog contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact. Contact them on 01584 890801 or for general advice visit their web site www.britishhedgehogs .org.uk.
We are happy to try to find a home for any animal but prefer not to take them in due to lack of time to look after them properly, lack of expertise with that particular type of animal, or lack of proper equipment for the animal.
Any animal we don’t know anything about – exotics, wild birds etc – we can contact the relevant people.
Most wild animals have their own rescue groups, we can put you in touch.
Marine animals – stranded dolphins and whales – we can give you numbers to ring.
Any sick or injured bird or animal you find should be taken immediately to the vet. No charge is usually made for wildies, please contact us if you have problems in our area. The animal is the most important thing, we can sort money out later.
If you witness any kind of animal cruelty contact your local SSPCA inspector straight away. If he’s not available, try the police. Strathclyde police have a Wildlife Crimes Officer, hopefully other forces have them too.