June 2012 newsletter


 kindly written for Brackley HogWatch by Kay Bullen VN
(Hedgehog Author, BHPS trustee and founder of a hedgehog rescue centre in Cardiff)

 June is the time when many of the female hedgehogs will be giving birth to their hoglets.  Having said that the mild weather in March has already resulted in a few early litters!  A typical litter will consist of 4-5 hoglets. 

 Sometimes the expectant mothers will suddenly decide to make further additions to their nursery nest or even make a last minute move to a new site.  So you may see a female hedgehog hurrying with a mouthful of leaves into her nest and then reappear and search for more and be back and forth in the daytime.  It will be obvious that although she is out in the day there is a definite purpose to her actions and this is one of the few times when a hedgehog out in the day should not be rescued. 

 The females that decide to change nest site can be a real problem.  Some are seen wandering in the day (and I wonder if these are first time mums) not really knowing what to do with themselves.  If they do this and are seen for some time then they may need to be rescued as they could well give birth in the open.  Others may be caught short and find the nearest cover they can and make an inadequate nest there.  One of the often-used sites is rubbish bags.  These bags are put out with recycling waste, garden waste or whatever.  Sometimes the hedgehog is lucky and when the owner of the bag picks it up some of the hoglets fall out and are seen.  Others are not so lucky and the whole nest is sent to the rubbish tip or recycling plant resulting in the death of the whole family.

 So if you have bags for your rubbish do please keep them off the ground so hedgehogs cannot get into them.  However if you do find this happened the first priority is to catch the mother.  The hoglets will be newborn and not very mobile, the mother will be quick and difficult to find if she escapes.  They can all be put into a high-sided box with some towel and torn up newspaper.   Then contact Brackley Hogwatch for advice.

 Disturbed nests in other parts of the garden, eg under some bushes or under a shed should be left alone, the mother should return and over a few days is likely to move her brood to a new nest site.  If the nest entrance is still obvious just place a small object ie a stem from a plant at the entrance so if it is disturbed you will know mum has returned.  Hopefully she will feed her youngsters and built a new nest nearby.  Leave some food nearby (not to close to attract cats to the vulnerable hoglets) so mum will have less time to forage and more time to suckle.  It is unlikely that she will move back in with them once the nest has been disturbed.  If it appears that mum has not returned overnight then the hoglets need to be rescued.

 Any hoglets found wandering around in the daytime are likely to have been abandoned or are orphaned.  Do not wait to see if mum will return – she is nocturnal and will not be out in the day.  Collect it or them up and keep them warm on a hot water bottle and call Brackley Hogwatch for advice.

 If you find a hedgehog in trouble call Brackley HogWatch any time day or night on 07528 119 416