Hedgehogs in winter: when do they need help?
Their beady eyes are just adorable – no wonder many people want to protect hedgehogs in winter. But experts warn: Healthy wild animals can get through the cold season without outside help. Read here how you can tell if the spiny animal needs your support.
This cute hedgehog doesn’t seem to need any help – Shutterstock / Africa Studio
When the days get shorter and the nights get colder, hedgehogs come out of their hiding places in winter and pad happily through the leaves – provided they are healthy. Because now they want to arm themselves for the cold season and collect a lot of winter fat. However, if a hedgehog has been lying unhidden in the same spot for days or is looking skinny, it may need your help.
As a rule, hedgehogs do not need any help in winter
According to the Animal Welfare Act, it is forbidden to take animals of the specially protected species, to which the hedgehog belongs, from the wild. In winter, the cute spiny animals are in hibernation – for a full six months. During this time they crawl into a hiding place and only leave it when spring has come. A hedgehog running around in winter is definitely a reason to prick up your ears. He might belong to the category of vulnerable hedgehogs who need care – and should be picked up by you.
How to recognize hedgehogs in need of help
The first group of hedgehogs in need of help are sick hedgehogs. They recognize you by the fact that they run around during the day, stagger or even lie around unprotected. Alarm bells should be ringing here. Sick hedgehogs are often apathetic, cool and don’t assume the typically curled-up protective posture. Their otherwise active beady eyes are sunken and slit-shaped. The same applies to injured hedgehogs. For example, if a leg is injured, they make poor progress and find it difficult to search for food. Immediate action is also necessary when you spot hedgehogs trapped in shafts or depressions.
The third group of winter hedgehogs that need help are orphaned baby hedgehogs. These are mostly found in early winter and can be recognized by spending the day outside their nest or lying around with their eyes and ears closed. In cases like these, however, no simple animal love will help. Collect the animal and take it to a veterinarian or a hedgehog sanctuary as quickly as possible – here the hedgehog can be treated professionally.
You might also be interested in these topics from the Animal category:
This is how you help hedgehogs to spend the winter in the garden
Here’s how you can help wildlife in winter
Baby Squirrel Clinging: Emergency Rescue!