Cold snap fuels RSPCA fears over the survival chances of underweight hedgehogs

The RSPCA said it is extremely concerned about underweight hedgehogs this winter following the recent cold snap.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 12:22 pm
Every year, the RSPCA receives thousands of calls from the general public reporting their concerns about a hedgehog. Photo courtesy of the RSPCA

The animal charity is worried about their chances of survival after it revealed that the numbers of the iconic creatures admitted to its wildlife centres have already topped 2020 figures.

Every year, the RSPCA receives thousands of calls from the general public reporting their concerns about a hedgehog.

In 2020, the animal charity received more than 6,000 (6,202) calls from people worried about sick, underweight, injured or orphaned hedgehogs.

Across East Yorkshire the RSPCA received 57 calls regarding hedgehogs with the North Yorkshire figure at 164.

The decision whether or not to intervene with a hedgehog depends on how much they weigh during early winter and whether they are healthy or not.

RSPCA Scientific Officer Evie Button said: “A cold snap can be lethal for underweight hedgehogs if it means they go into hibernation before they’ve put enough weight on.

“If you see a young hoglet that’s only about the size of an apple - around 300g - they really need to be rescued and taken to a rehabilitation facility, as they won’t have enough fat reserves to last the winter.

“We fear this may turn out to be a bad year for hedgehogs as admission numbers into our centres have already overtaken 2020’s.

“We urge people to visit our website for advice on what to do if they see a sick or injured hog, particularly if it’s out and about during the day.”

The best way to help juvenile hedgehogs depends on how much they weigh.

As part of its online hedgehog advice for the public the RSPCA recommends that:

○ If the hoglet weighs less than 300g (about the size of an apple), then it will need specialist care to survive the winter. Learn online how to capture and transport the animal to a rehabilitator.

○ The advice to take them to a rehabilitator also applies to hedgehogs of any size which are sick or injured, or seen out during the day during cold snaps

○ If a juvenile hedgehog weighs between 300 and 500g after mid-October, they probably won’t have enough weight to see them through the winter so may also need help.

Click here for more advice about hedgehogs from the RSPCA.