JERSEY HEDGEHOG PRESERVATION GROUP
CARING FOR JUVENILE HEDGEHOGS
The Hedgehog breeding season goes from May to October in Jersey and so babies and small hedgehogs can be found wandering around out of their nests in daylight during these months and also in the winter. If you have never looked after a young hedgehog before and live outside Jersey please go to our Caring for Orphans page. If you live in Jersey please phone 01534 734340 as soon as possible, you are not permitted to keep wildlife longer than 48 hours without a licence in Jersey.
The following is intended for hedgehog rehabilitators with their own rescue centres and access to medicines.
Admitting juveniles: Most of the juveniles we admit are found out in daylight and are dehydrated, we give them sub cut fluid and antibiotic as routine on admission, usually Norodine/Diatrim 24 unless they are injured in which case I would give Synulox and Rimadyl (Carprofen). I give Norodine/Diatrim first on the assumption that diarrboea will kill them quicker than anything else! After that I would give Synulox or Engemycin if there was a breathing problem and Synulox if they are "difficult" and fussy eaters and generally not doing well. Vit B12 and Dexamethazone also give them a boost and get them eating for themselves. If autumn juvies are found out after dark and are apparently healthy I try with no meds at first, but after the first poo sample has proved positive I am straight back to the medicine cabinet! So in effect medication usualy starts the next day after admission unless we are very lucky!
Accommodation: They start off in a hutch with a heat pad underneath in a warm room. We use shredded newspaper and hay for bedding. Cardboard boxes or paper sacks are used to contain the bedding, paper sacks filled with hay can calm hyperactive pigs.
In the summer I usually give them a heat pad until they reach about 300g, it varies of course on how they are doing, then I keep them inside with no heat until they are about 450-500g
We have some floor pens which are ideal if hogs are hyperactive or just very messy! The floor is cement covered with vinyl so is really cool and can encourage them to hibernate (in cold winters!)
and then put them outside in one of the enclosures
and think about release once they are at least 600g in summer. These weights go up as the year progresses - depending on the weather too. In the autumn I put them outside at 600g and release at 650-700g but by the end of winter I have every one under 650g inside and am releasing at 750g-800g!
Releasing: In Jersey we continue releasing throughout the winter as long as the weather is mild enough and not too wet. My rule is that the forecast for the next five nights has to be above +5C - so that they would have time to make a nest before more cold weather comes along. Our winters are mild and it is very unusual for our temps to fall below freezing, usually it only happens for a week or two at most. I realise that this is different in some parts of the UK.
We release them in paper sacks stuffed with hay so they have a ready made bed.
2 waiting for the off!
Release sites: We always try to return hogs to their finders' gardens if possible (if they were found there of course) or put them in a hedgehog friendly garden near to where they were found with food and water supplied. Sometimes they are released with no support at the edge of fields or in woodland if we don't know anyone in the area where they were found, but this is rare on a small island with a good network of hedgehog enthusiasts! In winter I would prefer a soft release slightly further from their original site, then it's up to them if they want to go back to where they came from and ignore the extra food!
Food: In recent years we have been using more and more Royal Canin cat biscuits, outdoor 30 once they are bigger, kitten and babycat for smaller hogs, they seem to love them all. We also use James Wellbeloved adult cat Turkey biscuits these go down well with bigger hogs. Hills Science Plan doesn't seem to be so well liked.
We start off by offering a choice of wet and dry food, Butchers Loaf or Pedigree Loaf and see what goes. I have stopped using wet cat food now we can't buy any without lumps in jelly or gravy unless you go for Gourmet varieties which are too expensive and rich! I find they lick the jelly or gravy and leave the lumps and the gravy goes through them like a dose of salts and gives them runny poo so I avoid it!
They are weighed every day and at first a daily weight gain of 10g is ideal until the correct bodyweight is attained. In winter once they are over 650g when they are very quiet (ours do not hibernate very much) we weigh them every 2-3 days to try to encourage them to nod off! Any sign of hyperactivity, digging or green poo and we step up our vigilence and weigh, poo check and medicate as necessary. Coccidia can be a problem during the winter. Sometimes it can be hard to know if the hog is wanting to hibernate or has Coccidia or even fluke which we may have missed.
If they do hibernate I still weigh them at least once a month, usually more frequently as we have had deaths in hibernation in the past. Soiled nests can be changed at the same time without disturbing the sleeper!
WORMING: We worm most of the autumn juveniles in our care. See the Endoparasites page for worming protocols.
For further information please contact: Dru Burdon on 01534 734340 email:
JERSEY HEDGEHOG PRESERVATION GROUP
White Lodge, Le Chemin des Moulins, St Helier, Jersey JE2 4ZR