Hedgehogs need a helping hand to get through dry summer months
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Summer is always a busy time of year for the RSPCA and especially so when there is a heatwave.
The RSPCA sends out a lot of messages about keeping pets safe in hot weather and a lot of people thankfully take this on board.
But it’s not just pets who struggle in the heat – wildlife can too, particularly hedgehogs.
The hot weather can result in a possible reduction in prey and available water, meaning that the iconic much-loved spiky creatures may struggle to find food and water naturally.
Because of this, the RSPCA is urging people to give them a helping hand by leaving out food and water for hedgehogs at night.
Hedgehogs love tinned dog or cat food and crushed dog or cat biscuits (not fish-based).
Hedgehog food is also highly recommended and often available from suppliers of wild bird food.
Never feed hedgehogs bread, which is low in nutrients, or milk as this can cause diarrhea.
Instead of milk, leave a shallow dish of clean water.
The RSPCA is also urging people to think carefully if they see a hedgehog – and whether it can be safely left alone or needs veterinary attention.
As a rule of thumb, if you see a hedgehog out during the day then it’s likely there is something wrong, as hedgehogs are usually nocturnal creatures.
This is because the insects and other small animals they feed on are normally active at night too.
However, during dry periods of weather, species like earthworms become scarce as the ground dries out.
So the hedgehog may be having to search harder and further for food.
So if it appears active and there is nothing obviously wrong –for example, the hedgehog is not injured, circling or staggering or in immediate danger – then it should be left alone, but provide some food and water to help it through this dry weather.
Some of the hedgehogs at RSPCA centres are perfectly healthy but have been removed from their natural habitat by well-meaning members of the public who fear it is sick or injured or has been abandoned by its mother.
In many cases, the mother is, in fact, close-by and simply hiding but will not return if a human is present.
Here at the RSPCA, we appreciate that it may be difficult to know what to do if you see a baby hedgehog.
Some will have been orphaned and others may have had their nest destroyed by mistake.
If a member of public uncovers a nest full of hoglets, we recommend that they cover it up again, as their mother will very likely be foraging nearby.
We think it’s important to make people aware because some people do not know what to do if they see a hedgehog, and whether they need help or not.
If in doubt, then seek advice by calling the RSPCA’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234999.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing animals in desperate need of care please visit www.rspca.org.uk