Baby wild hedgehog
Helping hedgehogs

Always wear gloves – the importance of hygiene in wildlife rescue

Hedgehogs out in the day are normally sick and, like with handling any sick wildlife, you need to take precautions. Sick hedgehogs can carry a number of parasites and bacteria that can pass to humans. Please don’t let this prevent you from helping a sick hedgehog but just make sure you take care.

Andy cute
Thick gardening gloves are great for picking up hedgehogs (but not so great for hygiene in the hedgehog hospital). Keep a pair in your car in case you need to help a hedgehog.

I always wear thick protective gloves whenever I am handling a hedgehog. The spines of an adult hedgehog are needle sharp. I wear thick rubber gloves (with latex under gloves) when handling the sick hedgehogs. These provide me with protection and can also be kept sterile. This is vital when looking after multiple creatures because infections can quickly spread between animals in a hospital as well as between animals and humans.

If you are in an emergency situation and don’t have gloves with you, use something like a jumper or a coat to pick the hedgehog up in. You can always wash it later.

I use antibacterial spray on my gloves between handling different hedgehogs. I also spray down and surfaces I may have touched. I use different cloths for cleaning out each hedgehog cage. These are then disinfected and washed daily. You can read more about a day in the life of a hedgehog rescue.

Gizmo exploring
Always wear gloves, even for handling baby hedgehogs

Not all hedgehogs will carry diseases and not all diseases can pass on to humans but they can carry E.Coli and Salmonella, amongst other bacteria. They can also carry ringworm, which can pass to humans. Sick hedgehogs may also be infested with ticks and there is a risk that a tick could bite and infect a human.

Despite always taking precautions, I got cellulitis in my finger, likely from a hedgehog spine that made its way through my gloves. I’ve yet to find a pair of completely spine-proof gloves! It’s a higher risk for someone like me, handling hedgehogs every day, although this is the first time it has happened in six years. It’s important not to get complacent and to get yourself to hospital urgently if you see any sign of swelling like in my finger.

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Cellulitis infection in my finger. Note the purple colour and swelling.

Not many of you reading this will end up running a hedgehog rescue but hygiene is still important in your garden. Maintaining careful hygiene around hedgehog feeding stations can prevent parasites and bacteria being passed on between hedgehogs in the wild. You can read more about feeding station hygiene here and also the kind of poo to look out for that may mean a visiting hedgehog has a problem.

You can read more about me and my work here.

I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife and you can visit my jewellery shop here.

Handmade silver nature jewellery by little silver hedgehog
Handmade silver nature jewellery by little silver hedgehog

3 thoughts on “Always wear gloves – the importance of hygiene in wildlife rescue”

  1. Your finger looks really bad. I don´t know what has happened to our hedgehogs, we saw two in spring, maybe they had hibernated in our hedgehog houses. We had very hot and dry summer, and they have not come now in autumn to eat, as they earlier have done.

  2. I have two oven gauntlets that I got from Lakeland. One is the usual padded on and the other is a silicon one which is less padded but can tolerate high temperatures and can be rinsed/washed and dried immediately. I’ve used them for handling feral cats and for hedgehogs. The hedgehogs are much easier! The gauntlets both go some way up your arm. I prefer folded over towels for my domestic work.

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