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Scottish SPCA unveil tips to help look after our prickly pals this summer

By Alan Beresford

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Some simple measures could help keep hedgehogs safe this summer.
Some simple measures could help keep hedgehogs safe this summer.

ANIMAL welfare charity the Scottish SPCA have issued advice on how the public can help hedgehogs.

The organisation used Hedgehog Awareness Week, which is a campaign organised every year by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, to unveil their hints and tips on helping out our prickly pals.

The Scottish SPCA National Wildlife Centre is currently caring for 28 hedgehogs. Some have been admitted to the centre after being found outside during the day in a poorly condition and dehydrated while others have been uplifted due to being tangled in netting, resulting in wounds and swollen joints, which require treatment.

Jenna Lister, triage assistant at the wildlife centre, outlined some advice on what to do if a member of the public thinks a hedgehog needs help and when to call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline.

She said: “In the coming weeks, you may see females wandering around during the day to find food and nesting materials.

“Unless the hog is in poor condition or showing signs of sickness, they should be left alone to carry on with these natural behaviours.

“Small hoglets with pink skin and closed eyes and ears should not be out of the nest alone. At four-weeks-old they will begin to leave the nest with their mother to go on foraging trips but they should not be seen out alone before they are fully independent.

“If they are wandering around, lying lifeless and cold or are making a peeping noise to call for their mother, then they are likely in need of our help. Hoglets are fully independent by eight-weeks of age, weighing around 250 grams and look just like a mini hedgehog with their spikes.”

With less suitable habitats available for hedgehogs, you can make your garden more hedgehog friendly and safe.

Jenna continued: “To help hedgehogs, leave materials in gardens that can be used for nests such as moss or leaves.

“You can also put out water dishes and cat food to help expecting mothers and juveniles later on in the season. Just make sure you avoid fish-based food.

“Check for signs of hedgehogs before carrying out any work in your garden, to try to prevent disturbing active nests. If nests are disturbed accidentally, please ensure there are no injuries to any young and put the nesting materials back. The mother will still return to the nest.

“Look out for signs of hedgehogs before using any types of netting in your garden, once they feel trapped they will begin to struggle to free themselves, resulting in them becoming tangled deeper within the netting. Use an alternative to netting if you possibly can, this could help to save hedgehogs lives.

“If you are concerned for the welfare of a hedgehog please contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”

Further advice can be found on the Scottish SPCA website https://www.scottishspca.org/advice/hedgehog

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