Help look after hedgehogs during the Summer

Animal rescuers are advising people to leave out fresh water in their gardens for wildlife to drink during the hot weather. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) has recently been called about 12 hedgehogs which have been suffering from dehydration and emaciation due to the hot weather.

"I have never seen so many hedgehogs in such a bad condition like this before. We are in touch with other hedgehog rescuers across the UK and they are having similar problems as well" said Trevor Weeks founder of WRAS.

"We have had several people and even vets practices contact us saying hedgehogs they have are only slightly underweight, but on arrival we have discovered them to be very emaciated and severely dehydrated. Just because a hedgehog is over 600 grams does not mean it is not underweight at all." Said Trevor.

Hedgehogs can grow up to 1.2kg in weight, some overweight hedgehogs have been recorded even larger than this. "So a 600 grams hedgehogs being found at this time of year could have lost half its body weight and be in a critical condition. " added Trevor.

Some well meaning people have taken in underweight hedgehogs and started feeding them, but if you don't know what you are doing or do not feed suitable food you can kill an emaciated or dehydrated hedgehog very easily. Starvation and emaciation takes its toll on the hedgehogs body and little amounts on a regular basis are advised, if you feed too much too quickly there bodies can shut down and die. WRAS carers use a special moist almost liquid food to start with as this is kinder on the hedgehogs stomach which can develop very painful muscle cramps when they start eating.

Some vets practices have a polices of not treating wildlife for the first 24 hours and only if they are alive after that do they start treatment, WRAS is strongly against this policy which WRAS believes is cruel. First aid in the very early stages makes the difference between live and death and would urge people and vets practices with emaciated or dehydrated casualties to seek advice and help as soon as possible from a hedgehog carer who is registered with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Anyone wanting to leave out food for hedgehogs should be careful that they are not just feeding the local rats or other wildlife and target the hedgehogs by putting good quality cat food out for when they are due and monitoring to ensure they get the food. Unsuitable types of food are fish flavoured cat food, fish, cheese, salty or spicey foods and definitely not bread and milk. An upturned clear plastic box with a hole cut in the side can stop birds and larger animals gaining access to the food.

"As will the feeding of all wildlife we do not advise people to artificially feed wildlife long term, but just in harsh weather conditions when animals are struggling." Said Trevor.

Young hedgehogs are being born at this time of year so some mums may be struggling to find enough food to sustain themselves and their babies.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, Director, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958

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