Looking for something to do with the kids during the summer holidays? Why not build a hedgehog cafe!
By feeding the hungry hogs in your garden, you’re helping them build the energy they need to raise their hoglets and gain fat stores for their long winter hibernation. With hedgehogs in the UK at risk of extinction, it’s vital that we give our spiky friends a safe place to eat and rest. One great way to do this is to build a feeding station in your garden with lots of hedgehog food and fresh water!
What you will need to build your hedgehog café:
Large plastic or wooden box
Hacksaw or strong scissors*
Strong, thick tape
2 bricks or large stones
Our simple step-by-step guide:
- Choose a quiet spot in your garden to place your cafe, ensuring the area is in relatively close proximity to your ‘hedgehog highway’ (a small hole cut into your fence which allows hedgehogs to come and go as they please).
- Carefully cut a 13cmx13cm/4.5’’x4.5’’ hole in one side of the box. This will be your hedgehog entrance point. You can also install a tunnel to prevent cats or foxes stealing the food.
- If using a plastic box, ensure that all sharp edges are covered with thick tape. This will ensure that the hedgehog will not be harmed by any sharp bits.
- Turn the box upside down and place your WildThings Hedgehog Food and water at the furthest point away from the hedgehog entrance.
- Place a brick or other heavy object on top of the plastic box to ensure that the box does not fall over or move and expose the hedgehog and its food. This will also stop foxes or cats from tipping the box up or dragging it away.
Now it’s time to spot your spiky visitor! Keep a close lookout as the sun goes down and you may just be rewarded with a hedgehog snuffling away at the delicious food in your café.
Eating enough before hibernation is very important and this is when supplementary feeding can prove vital for any hedgehog’s survival. So, there is no better time than the present to start building your hedgehog feeding station!
For more ideas on how you can help your local hedgehogs, follow us on social media.
*Please always be careful when using sharp objects. Children should seek assistance from a parent or guardian.
What should I do if I find a sick or injured hedgehog?
You should think carefully about deciding what to do next after coming across a hedgehog which you suspect is sick. Unless it is severely injured, you should not take a hedgehog too far away from where you originally discovered it. If severely injured, you should take it to a local hedgehog rescue centre or the vets in a sturdy, high-sided cardboard box lined with a sheet, towel without holes or ripped up newspaper. You should move it to a safe location nearby to where you found it if you find a hedgehog alive and in a dangerous place such as near a busy road.
How do I decide whether a hedgehog is sick or not?
If you suspect a hedgehog is sick, you should visually examine it in order to gage an understanding as to whether or not it may need medical attention. Things you can look out for are:
- Does the hedgehog look thin? It could be malnourished and will need a nutritious food source in order to build up its weight.
- Does its skin spring back when you pull up a couple of spines? If the skin appears to stay in place, the hedgehog could be dehydrated. Ensure the hedgehog has access to plenty of water if you suspect dehydration.
- Does the hedgehog have a funny smell? It could have an infection somewhere on its body, meaning it will more than likely need professional medical attention.
What steps can I take to care for a sick hedgehog?
If you are caring for a sick hedgehog, it is important that they have a good heat source from, for example, a heat lamp or well-wrapped hot water bottle (to avoid burning the hedgehog). The hedgehog will also need to be kept clean, meaning its ‘bedding’ (i.e. the towel, sheet or ripped up newspaper) will need to be changed daily.
Sick or injured hedgehogs are susceptible to hypothermia. You can look out for symptoms such as the hedgehog staggering around or ‘sunbathing’ (spreading themselves out on the floor in an attempt to quickly get some heat into their bodies). If you suspect that a hedgehog has hypothermia, again, take it inside placed in a high-sided cardboard box lined with a sheet, towel without holes or ripped up newspaper and ensure that the hog has heat by placing a well-wrapped hot water bottle inside the box. If you are placing a hot water bottle in the box, make sure that the hedgehog has enough room to move away from the hot water bottle to avoid overheating. It is vital to keep this hot water bottle warm, as letting it go cold will do more harm than good. Ensure that you check the temperature of the hot water bottle very frequently and change the water if necessary.
Once you have taken all of the advised steps stated above, you can contact The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) on 01584 890 801 who will further assist you on next steps. If you think that the hedgehog needs urgent or professional medical attention, you can take it to your local veterinary practice or hedgehog rescue centre.