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What to do with an Orphan Hedgehog

Updated on December 3, 2014

Hedgehog using computer?

Source

Guthram - A Very Special Rescue Hedgehog

This is a story about a hedgehog hospital and what to do with an orphan hedgehog over winter. Have you ever seen a hedgehog hospital or wondered about rescuing them? What size does a wild hedgehog need to be to survive hibernation? How do you care for a wild orphan hedgehog?


I do hope you are interested in wild hedgehogs? Guthram, as he was known to Ed and Nigel the Vets, or Guthrie Hog as he was known to the family and our tribe of cats was a special hedgehog baby. In this article I will tell the story of how he came to us, what happened, and what we learned. It is a happy story and he was eventually released. It is also a story that happens all too often. Sadly the results are not always happy, but hopefully this page will help hedgehogs.

Lens image taken by Photahsiamirabel, all rights reserved.

Old Guthrams Almanac 2015

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What to do with a Baby Hedgehog

When an Orphan Hedgehog comes to stay



Hedgehogs hibernate in the Autumn. In November they look for comfy piles of wood and leaves to burrow into and make into a snug hibernarium where they can doze through the cold weather. There are two main dangers to hedgehogs at this time, the social activities of human beings and the lack of food.

If you care about hedgehogs, never light a bonfire without checking there are no animals sheltering. Hedgehogs are often injured or die this way!

Swarovski Nick Figurine
Swarovski Nick Figurine

Swarovski Nick is not very wild... He is made out of crystal, so cheap to feed ;)

 

Hedgehogs who are slow starters, orphans, or born late in the season will not have sufficient fat reserves to survive hibernation. Young orphans found weighing less than 500g (1.1lb) at the end of the autumn will probably die unless taken in for the winter. What does a 1.1lb hedgehog look like? Well, like a proper hedgehog, but very small. Guthrie Hog was such an underweight orphan. He was about the same size as the orphans in Elaine's picture - slightly larger than a tennis ball - and obviously too small to hibernate.

How to care for orphan hedgehogs - when Guthrie Came To Stay

The Orphan Hedgehog Arrived



One cold November night, at around bedtime, we were startled by a loud and persistent knocking on our door. We opened it to find a jolly neighbour with a slight glow on from a night at the pub. "I've brought you a present" he said swaying very slightly, "You'll know what to do with it!" He opened his hands to reveal such a small hedgehog! "Found him wandering in the road and he looks too small to be on his own" said our kindly neighbour.

Hedgehogs (A Complete Pet Owner's Manual)
Hedgehogs (A Complete Pet Owner's Manual)

Pet owner? Yes, I know hedgehogs make popular pets stateside, but as a Brit.... Well, our hedgehogs are WILD! (Real wild at times!)

 

What were we to do? Neither of us knew much about hedgehogs, we had taken various casualties to the Wildlife Centre locally though, so we reckoned the best thing for the little chap was a quiet box for the night. The cats took an interest of course, but the prickles, though small, were sharp so they soon lost interest. We left him overnight in a sturdy box with a towel for a roof, a dish of cat food, some water and an old rag to make into a nest.

The following morning, the Wildlife Centre recommended Hedgehog Care and so we telephoned Elaine Drewery at Authorpe, near Louth, and our education began....

Orphan Hedgehog - visits to the Vet

Guthram's First Check Up



We have cats now, we had cats then and we also had carpets! We knew hedgehogs carry fleas, but not what was safe to treat them, so our first port of call was the vet, Mr Way, who laughed, deflead Guthrie and gave us some palatable worming liquid for kittens. He told us that hedgehogs, like feral cats, have much shorter lifespans because of internal and external parasites. Guthram was otherwise a healthy hoglet. So off we went to Authorpe to chat with the Lady of the Hogs herself.

Now as previously mentioned, Elaine, mother of the lead singer in pop group Swing Out Sister, has totally devoted her life to the little ones. She has a few dedicated helpers and fundraisers and a few sponsors but what she does is nonetheless amazing! She takes in orphans and casualties all year round and hedgehogs who are too sick to return to the wild or too needy to rehome in a safely walled garden live out their days in her house and garden.

There are hospital wards, memorials, and even a Hogsfam shop at Elaine's Hedgehog Sanctuary! The inside of the house is like one great big hibernarium. If you sit down, don't sit on a sweater - it may be housing something prickly! Her "hospice" cases roam like pet cats, use litter boxes even. She is amazing! I can't say strongly enough - visit the website if you can't visit the rescue!

St. Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital: Jaws the Hedgehog and Other Stories
St. Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital: Jaws the Hedgehog and Other Stories

St Tiggywinkles was the first hedgehog hospital I heard of. I have read this book, but had no idea it was so rare or valuable!

 

A little more about Nick and Spike's Dinner - Or perhaps a little advice and a cuddle or two...

...but my, don't I wish I hadn't given Les Stocker's book to that jumble sale!

Spikes Delicious Dry 2.5 Kg
Spikes Delicious Dry 2.5 Kg

Specially formulated for Hedgehogs! Would suit pets, or orphan rescues... Guthrie ate cat food, but this would be better for his teeth!

 

Hedgehog Care -Expert in Hedgehog Rescue - Lincolnshire's Hedgehog Hospital



Elaine explained to us that the hospital was presently over-flowing, but to bring Guthrie over if he seemed ill. Otherwise could we foster him for the winter? We said we could, and we headed over to Authorpe to meet Elaine and get advice for his care and upbringing!

Hedgehog Reference Section - Everything you wanted to know about Hedgehogs

Adorable hedgehogs for Christmas Gifts - Buy hedgehog toys

You can buy cute hedgehog toys, or simply use the search box to browse for whatever you like. Type in the box and do some window shopping with the hedgehogs here! Have fun!

Guthram's Lodgings

Housing a Hedgehog for Winter



Following our visit to Elaine, we made a sturdy wooden box for Guthram. It was lined with newspaper for ease in cleaning and softness on delicate paws. (We sooned learned hedgehogs are messy!) For warmth and security, We gave him an old sweater, minus buttons and sleeves, so he could roll himself up in a ball and snooze safely.

We offered him cat food mixed with Abidec vitamin drops and fresh water. (Which was frequently spilled!) Hedgehogs will eat many things, but should NEVER be given bread and milk as cow's milk gives them debilitating diahorrhea and can kill! Cat food is good, but needs pepping up. Slugs don't appeal in captivity! ;)

Visit to the Hospital

Return to Hedgehog Care

It is a long time since we visited the hospital at Authorpe and I owe Elaine another donation, so maybe sometime this week - between decorating and training days - I will take a little time out to see how things are going! If you are in the Louth area, I can recommend you go to see Hedghog Care too!


Hedgehogs



Here are some books that wildlife enthusiasts might enjoy. It amazes me the care that people like Elaine Drewery and Les Stocker are able to provide, with veterinary advice on hand, to animals that bigger charities often give up on!



I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to the world of Hedgehogs. Please leave us a message!

Guthram's Guestbook

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    • profile image

      LadyDuck 5 years ago

      Nice lens, hedgehogs are friendly animals I have two in my gardens, they love cheese rinds, they are so cute.

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 5 years ago

      Lovely story - thanks.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Hedgehogs are such interesting little animals. Since we don't have them in the US, I've never actually seen one. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of your rescue of Guthram and it's great to know that there is a hedgehog hospital to help them. Blessed by a SquidAngel and featured on my angel lens.

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 8 years ago

      Guthram was so cute when he was a baby. A very nice heartwarming adventure with your hedgehog. I can't wait to read the rest of the story. 5*s

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens. Lensrolled to my St Tiggywinkle's lens ;) and SquidAngel Blessings to you!

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 8 years ago

      Great lens with some great advice for people who might find themselves with a hedgehog orphan! 5*

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Beautiful heart-warming story of this cute little creature. Look forward to seeing your follow-up lens - very well done!

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 8 years ago

      Can't wait to hear more about Guthrie Hog. 5* for the advice about hedgehogs, they are wonderful, fascinating little creatures.

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