Wild hedgehog in hedgehog box
Helping hedgehogs

Autumn juvenile hedgehogs

Autumn juveniles – late hedgehog babies

Our warm summers mean that hedgehogs are mating later, creating late babies well into Autumn. What weight do hedgehogs need to be to survive hibernation? When should you worry about the weight of hedgehogs in Autumn and consider whether to ‘over-winter’ a hedgehog.

Wild hedgehog in hedgehog box

I welcome the recently revised joint advice on this subject. There has been much confusion and conflicting views on this topic over the years with the result that many hedgehogs may have been ‘rescued’ that didn’t need to be, whereas others may have perished unnecessarily.

It is important to remember that pictures of hedgehogs in hedgehog rescues may look cute but captivity is extremely stressful for any wild animal. It should never be undertaken without full consideration. Captivity can cause as many problems as it seeks to resolve. Internal parasites tend to increase in captivity due to stress. Problems like ringworm can be caused or exacerbated by the stress of captivity. Without proper hygiene, bacterial infections can rapidly spread between captive hedgehogs. It is important to consider all these factors when considering whether a hedgehog needs rescue.

You can read the advice here. Based on this, hedgehogs weighing less than 450g found between late October and February are likely to be in need of rescue even if only being seen as night. It does, however, depend upon local temperatures and conditions. Hedgehogs under this weight are unlikely to have built up enough fat reserves to survive hibernation. Hedgehogs may have a better chance of surviving hibernation at 650g+. To weigh a hedgehog, you will need to wear thick gloves. Place the hedgehog in a container on the scales to stop it wriggling.

Weighing a hedgehog is easier if it is in a container on the scales
Blind wild hedgehog
Hedgehogs are nocturnal. Always seek advice from a hedgehog rescue if you find a hedgehog out in the day at any time of year.

You can give hedgehogs the best chance of getting to a suitable weight for hibernation by providing supplementary food and water well into the Winter period.

Due to the fact that internal parasites can rapidly multiply in captivity, I would not advise over-wintering a hedgehog without the advice and support of a nearby hedgehog rescue. I have had many a call about an over-wintered hedgehog that has suddenly gone downhill and has been beyond saving, after having been cared for by a well meaning person but with no specialist knowledge. They can seem to be doing okay but, once the parasites multiply, they can go downhill extremely rapidly. This is a terrible situation for the hedgehog, the carer and the hedgehog rescue that has to try and fix the hedgehog.

If you have successfully over-wintered a hedgehog, you may also find this advice about releasing them back to the wild useful.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. My hedgehog rescue and awareness work is entirely self-funded. If you have found this information useful, you can read more about me here and how to support my work.

I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise funds for my hedgehog hospital. Please visit my online jewellery shop here.

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

2 thoughts on “Autumn juvenile hedgehogs”

  1. Sorry, you have found some of the things we have, a lady called Toni, in York has helped us. But these people are overwhelmed. Look her up, she has won awards, but does not, I believe recieve any actual money. We are getting our hedgehog back, I say that, was a hedgehog found in my garden, by my neighbours cats, had lung worm. Now healthy. Hoping she will get back with her family, ready for hibernation. Look her up, she has been named Fran. XX.

  2. Hello..thankyou for your site and your dedication to these wonderful animals.
    I live in a semi-rural area where there is a good turnover of yearly hedgehogs which I help to ensure their survival in any way possible.
    This past autumn (2020) a probable late birthed juvenile was found under 300 weight with tick+flea/dry crusty skin+ears infestation ( mites?) .
    Pleased to say today, healthy skin, little or no fleas, and certainly no ticks and a very healthy weight…
    However he has developed a weepy eye and slighly swollen eyelids. I notdd ond day he had been dleeping with his head near his poo and/or scratching occassionaly. So am unclear as to nature of why eye weepy other than eye irritationand/or bacterial infection.
    I contacted wildlife rehabilation centre near me ( thirsk) who said does not want anyone coming to home furing these times. Advice to wash with light saline which I have been for awhile. It abates but eventually returns weepy again. Clearly needs an antibiotic. Phoning vets here they will see but will charge amost 50-60 pounds consultation and meds despite thisbeing a wild rescue/rebabiltation not a pet! Wheres the compassion gone?!
    So..what can I do? Is there any over the counter antibiotc or otherwise eye ointment/fliud that can be used from pharmacy? Noted polysporin in some hedgehog websites suggested.
    Can you help/advise a course of action? I can afford a prescription as needed but the vet consultation fees are out of reach and personally are unethical when it comes to helping the wildlife survive. Since 2006 I have mananged to help many to go on to have muliple litters every year where I live. Somethings working x The helping link to rescue medical care in this area eludes me.

    Cherise x

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