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Autumn Juvenile Hedgehog Care
By Ark Wildlife
16th September 2013
What exactly do we mean when we talk about autumn orphans and juvenile hedgehogs?
What are they –
Some hedgehogs may have more than one litter a year and the last litters can be born as late as September or even October in mild years!
Long cold nights and with their natural diet lacking in availability, it is extremely difficult for the youngsters to build up the necessary fat reserves to see them through the winter. These circumstances do not dissuade them from the natural order of things and they will still leave the nest and go their separate ways after 4-5 weeks.
Against the odds –
Although hedgehogs may be driven to hibernate at a weight of 450grms or less, it is highly unlikely that they will survive the winter. Ideally, yearlings need to get their weight up to and over 600grams and then their chances of successfully overwintering are greatly increased.
A little assistance –
Because of their nocturnal nature it is not always clear if you have autumn orphans visiting your garden but it is always important to put out appropriate hedgehog food along with fresh water and this is doubly true at this time of the year. In fact, many carers now recommend putting out dried hedgehog food throughout the winter, as hedgehogs have remained active up to and past Christmas in recent years.
When help is necessary –
Spotting a hedgehog during daylight hours (regardless of size) is a warning sign of the animal’s ill health at any time of the year. Although they may seem to be lively these hedgehogs along with any that are below the required overwintering weight require rescuing, especially from October onwards.
Using a soft towel, pick up the hedgehog and place in a high-sided box whilst still wrapped in the towel. Your local vet may be able to supply you with contact details for hedgehog carers local to you or alternatively, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 and they will be able to provide advice and further assistance. You can also search for a local carer from the carers database at thehedgehog.co.uk.
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