Yippee!! I have a hedgehog in my garden what do I do Now?

Hedgehogs are one of our most loved wild animals here in the UK. But their numbers are in decline, and they are not the common sight they used to be. So it’s a real treat to realise that you have one in the garden.

How do you know you have a hedgehog in the garden? You might see it, but as they come out at night, they can be tricky to spot. It’s just as likely that the first signs you get will be hearing hedgehog noises, or finding a little hog poo on the lawn in the morning.

But what should you do to help a prickly visitor? It can be difficult to know.

The best thing to do for hedgehogs in your garden will depend on when you see them and how they look.

In this article, we’ll take a look at precisely what you should and shouldn’t do when you have a hedgie in your garden.

What to do When You Have a Hedgehog in Your Garden

When Did you See the Hedgehog?

What you should do with hedgehogs in your garden depends on when you see them.

Summer Nights

Nighttimes between April and October are when you would expect to see hedgehogs out and about. If you spot a hedgehog in your garden during this time, it just needs to be made welcome. We’ll show you how.

Daytime

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, they come out at night and sleep during the day. The only exception to this is when female hogs can sometimes be seen foraging in the late afternoons.

So, if you have a hedgie wandering around in your garden during the daytime, chances are it’s in trouble. Take it to your local rescue centre.

Late Autumn or Early Winter

If you have a hedgehog in your garden in late Autumn or early Winter, you should pay close attention to how it looks.

The best thing to do for hedgehogs in your garden will depend on when you see them and how they look. Click To Tweet

Hogs go into hibernation for the winter in October/November. They need to have plenty of fat on them to survive the winter. A hedgehog that weighs under 600grams will probably not make it through to the spring.

So if you see a skinny looking hog in your garden in late autumn, you probably need to take a closer look.

Making Summer Night Hedgehogs Welcome.

Although hedgehogs visiting your garden at night during the spring and summer months are probably perfectly healthy, there is still plenty that you can do to help them.

Provide Food and Water.

Unlike many of us humans, hedgehogs spend most of their time trying to put ON weight.

You can help them by providing food and water.

Choose a wet or dry dog or cat food. Or better still specialist hedgehog food. And offer a dish of water – never offer milk please, it’s very bad for them.

You can leave the food out at dusk in shallow, heavy bowls, or better still, set up a hedgehog feeding station. See how in our handy guide, here.

Provide Shelter

Hedgehogs need somewhere to rest during the daytime, to raise babies and to hibernate over the winter.

Hedgehogs like to nest in quiet, dry places. Old tree roots, rabbit holes, log or leaf piles and underneath sheds are favourite places.

If your garden is lacking in natural nesting sites you could provide a hedgehog house.

A hedgehog house will give your hogs a safe, dry place to nest at night or hibernate over the winter.

Build A Highway

It’s great to have hedgehogs in your garden. But your garden alone will not be big enough for them. Small though they are, a typical hedgie travels over a kilometre every night looking for food.

Garden walls and well-maintained fences restrict hedgehog movement. So make a highway.

Cut a small hole, about 5 inches square in the bottom of your fence. This will allow the hedgehog to roam. Before you do this, let your neighbour know what you’re doing. And please check that the fence is actually yours!

Go Wild!

Create a wild corner. Make a leaf or log pile. Allow the grass to grow and a few weeds to appear. This will provide shelter for the hedgehog and encourage the beetles and things it likes to eat.

You’ll find your wild corner also attracts butterflies, bees and even maybe a frog or two!

Make your Garden Hedgehog Safe

A modern garden holds a whole host of potential hazards for a visiting hedgehog.

Follow these steps to make your garden a hedgehog haven.

  • Avoid pesticides and chemicals – especially slug pellets. Hedgehogs are the gardener’s friend and will be delighted to dine on the slugs, snails and caterpillars in your garden. If you are using slug pellets and pesticides in your garden, these will make their way into the hog’s digestive system and will make them ill.
  • Put an escape route into your pond. Hedgehogs are quite good swimmers, and they enjoy a drink of pond water. But if your lake has steep sides they will have trouble getting out. Provide a ramp, or a “beach” to help.
  • Be careful with your power tools. Hogs love to hide in piles of vegetation or overgrown areas. So if you’re moving long grass, strimming undergrowth, or even forking over the compost heap, check for hedgies first.
  • Nuisance Netting. You know that old saying “curiosity killed the cat”? Well, it probably should say “curiosity killed the hedgehog”! They love poking their noses into things they shouldn’t. And if you’re covered in long spines, once you’ve poked your nose into something it can be tough to get back out again. Netting for protecting vegetables is a particular problem. So is sports netting. Try not to leave them lying around.
  • Beware of Bonfires. A nicely built bonfire looks like a perfect nesting site to a hedgehog. Be very careful before you light one. The best approach is to build a bonfire just before you plan to use it. So you don’t give hogs a chance to take up residence.
  • Dangerous Dogs. If your dog tends to chase things, watch her carefully when you put her out at night. Maybe even consider putting her on the lead after dark. Though it’s unusual for dogs to kill hedgehogs, they can cause injury and upset.
Check your bonfire carefully for hedgehogs before lighting.

Rescuing a Day Time Visitor.

If you see a hedgehog in your garden during the day, it probably needs your help.

Watch it carefully. Is it wobbling around? Is it limping? Does it look weak and unsteady on its feet?

If you can answer yes to any of these, then it’s best to get the hog to your local rescue centre.

For this you will need:

  • a pair of thick gardening gloves.
  • a cardboard or plastic box.
  • 2 towels.
  • a hot water bottle or plastic drink bottle.

To rescue the hedgehog.

  1. Line the cardboard box with a towel.
  2. If the weather is cold, fill the hot water bottle or drinks bottle with warm – not boiling – water, and wrap it in the other towel. Then place it in the box.
  3. Pick up the hedgehog carefully in your gloved hands. Do this by scooping it from underneath, as if you were going to wash your face with water.
  4. Bring the box into the house, do not leave it outside or in a cold garage. Sick hedgehogs need to be warm.
  5. If you can’t get to your hedgehog rescue for a while, consider offering the hog some food and water.

Autumn and Early Winter Hedgehog Visitors.

If you see hedgehogs in your garden in autumn or early winter, please check to see whether they are carrying enough fat to get through the winter.

To be sure of surviving hibernation, a hedgehog needs to weigh over 600 grams.

So thought we would generally advise against handling wildlife, in this case, you need to weigh the hedgehog.

Using your gardening gloves, pick the hedgehog up, cupping it in both hands, and place it gently onto the scales.

If the hedgehog is just slightly underweight, you could try offering it plenty of food for a couple of days, then weighing again.

If the hog is below 500 grams, it will not survive hibernation and needs to be overwintered indoors.

Talk to your local rescue centre. They will take the hog if you need them to. But if the hog is otherwise healthy, you might like to consider overwintering it yourself.

This is a relatively straightforward task and can be very rewarding.

Take a look at this article to see how.

The Correct Way to Hold a Hedgehog

Helping Hedgehogs in Your Garden.

British hedgehogs are in trouble and need our help.

Intensive farming, the destruction of hedgerows and the use of pesticides have led to a considerable drop in hedgehog numbers.

But our gardens can form an excellent new habitat for hedgehogs and hedgehog numbers in urban areas are finally on the increase.

You can make a real difference to the species by making your garden hedgehog-friendly.

For more information on how you can help hedgehogs visit:

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Hedgehog Street.

And if you spot a hedgehog in trouble, you can find your local hedgehog rescue project by clicking here.

And if you have more questions on hedgehog noises we would love to hear from you, leave us a comment below.

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39 Responses

  1. I’ve just found a ball of prickly spines sleeping under my pile of garden stuff – including Wood – draped with a Tarp. How exciting! I was going to “tidy” under the Tarp and re-locate a few things, but that can wait. What a treat ….
    slightly mystified though why this lovely creature chose a city suburb’s tar-mack’ed back yard but s/he’s very welcome indeed!

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      How Exciting! If you can leave her some food and water out she will be very grateful.

      Good Luck!

      Clare

  2. We’ve had hedgehogs for years and always leave food out however the decking the hedgehogs are under needs to be replaced as falling apart.

    I am going to change tomorrow but would it be best to do at night time when they are on their travels?

    1. Hi Sharon,
      I am guessing you have done it by now as I am a little late checking my messages. If you did it at night good for you!
      But at this time of year doing it in the daytime shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It’s when they are breeding or hibernating that we really need to be careful.
      Hope it all went well.
      Clare

  3. Me and my mum just found two massive hedgehogs in our garden!! They were snorting like pigs it was about 22:00 at night. At the start my mum though they where massive rats because we get all kinds or animals in our little garden.. My mums worried about putting food and water out for them because it might attract foxes and rats well if there tiny rats then hedgehogs will get supper. My mum thought that they might have been mating as when we aproched they didn’t run away till we let some one check for us and then they ran by the plants and then we lost the other. So what can we do to keep them safe?

    From Sabina 10 years old

    1. Hi Sabina,
      That sounds like a fun evening you had with your new hedgehog visitors!
      Tell your Mum not to be too worried about putting food and water out for them. foxes wont hurt hedgehogs, and as long as you take away any left over food each morning there is not too much risk of rats.
      If they are mating at this time of year they will be having autumn babies, and these really need us to feed them so they are fat enough to to hibernate.
      Good Luck and let us know how you get on!
      Clare

  4. Dear Clare. We have a hedgehog in our garden in Kingham. I have seen her/him twice on the lawn. I am dying to pick her up. May I do this or is it better not to handle the hedgehog at all. I leave food and water next to the hedgehog house and I put nesting material in the house. Any other tips? Best Annie

  5. We had our shed moved and found a hedgehog under neath its nest was made of tesco carrier bag and leaves. My hubby has made a bed of straw and house and fed it dog food with it be ok

    1. Hi Naomi,

      They do make nests out of the strangest things.
      Your hog should be fine. I am guessing there were no babies in the nest and its the wrong time of year for them to be hibernating. So the nest you found was probably only a daytime nap nest.
      Generally speaking though, its better not to disturb their nests, however weird the construction!

      Clare

  6. I found a hedgehog under the shed when it was taken down, all wrapped up in a bundle of leaves etc. Have been feeding and watering and thinkmit goes next door every night for a midnight feast with his friends who live there.
    His temporary home is a cardboard box put over him but he has to be moved cos a gree surgeon is coming to cut tree down where his box is.
    I have a new hedgehog house i can tuck away down the end of another shed near neighbours fence but not sure how to move him. Can i try to lift him and nest on shovel in daytime and put down in new area, and plonk new house over the top of him?
    Slightly urgent as tree is coming down at weekend.

  7. Hi there, we have just found a huge hedgehog asleep in an outdoor room under a sleeping bag. We moved it to a hayfilled box after weighing it (1.2kg) it’s been asleep for 3 days now and hasn’t eaten any of the food or water we put out. Isn’t it too early for hibernating? What should I do?

    1. Hi Jo,
      Sorry about the late reply! I am guessing you have sorted things out with your hog one way or another by now – I would be interested to know what happened.
      It is a little early for hibernation, the best thing to do in this situation would be to contact your local hedgehog rescue.
      Clare

      1. I have a hedgehog in my garden ,regular visitor,l feed it Tiger kitten dry cat food ,chicken flavour loves it

  8. Hi, We have a fairly biggish hedgehog in our garden for the past 6/7 weeks (now 10th Oct). It stays under our decking during the day and comes out around 11pm onwards. We have seen it eating cat food that we’ve left out but as we already have 4 cats and 2 dogs it’s hard to make sure they don’t get at it first. Just wondering what we should do now as winters approaching and he needs to hibernate? When do they hibernate from and to? Many thanks Suan

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks for the questions.
      This article will tell you everything you need to know about hibernation:
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/hedgehogs-hibernating/
      He could be quite happy under your decking for the winter so long as he can find plenty of nesting materials.
      If you are worried about him fattening up enough to hibernate I would suggest you weigh him. Have a look at this article:
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/how-to-rescue-and-over-winter-a-hedgehog/
      If he is skinny you might want to take him in for a week or two and fatten him up.
      In terms of protecting the food from your cats and dogs a feeding station will be the best option:
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/hedgehog-feeding-station/
      Best of luck and keep us posted.
      Clare

  9. I have a hedgehog in my garden and can only think that he landed there by accident from the back high up, maybe fallen in! Anyway he has been up the street in somebody else’s garden apparently. I have taken him to the vets to have about 10 ticks removed and am feeding him, made him a house. But there aren’t any holes for him to get out of my garden! What should I do?

    1. Hi Louise,

      Hedgehogs are devious and often find holes where we think there are none. Have you done a really thorough check. Looked for little tunnels under the fence? How about your gate, is that solid or does it have gaps.
      If there really are no gaps you will need to make one check out this article:
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/how-to-make-a-hedgehog-highway/
      If that’s not possible, then your best bet, sadly, will be to talk to your local hedgehog rescue about getting him re-homed. They will have volunteers locally who have suitable, safe gardens.
      Best of luck and keep us posted!
      Clare

  10. we knew we had an adult hedgehog in our garden but last night we saw 2 hoglets,we weighed one and it was only 200g.As they wont survive hibernation we would like some advice please.Im happy to take care of them but not sure how.I put some meat cat food down but they were not interested,and my cats would eat it pretty quickly if I left it.Any advice please.I have contacted an animal rescue but had no answer yet.

    1. Hi There,
      The good news is we are having a really mild autumn and if the weather carries on like this they will have plenty of time to put on weight before they need to hibernate.
      A feeding station is the best bet for keeping the cat off the food. You can buy of make one:
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/hedgehog-feeding-station/
      And if they are still underweight when the nights finally do start to get colder take a look at this article for more advice:
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/how-to-rescue-and-over-winter-a-hedgehog/
      Best of luck!
      Clare

  11. My mother has had a hedgehog appear in her back garden for the last few weeks. He Appears roughly the same time every night and has cat food. However he seems to have disappeared the last few nights. We have a shed but impossible to see underneath. The grass was cut and my mother fears the noise disrupted him. Could he be gone into hibernation or has he likely moved on.?

    1. Hi Sinead,
      He wont have gone into hibernation yet, the weather is too mild. He may just have moved on. If you have been doing a big autumn tidy up in the garden it may be that there just isn’t quite enough cover for him to be comfortable.
      Best
      Clare

  12. We have found a hedgehog 🦔 literally at the front door, we have put him into a cardboard box with a towel and have given him some water, he has a few lumps on him too which look like little sacks/pockets of liquid we were unsure what they are.

    I’ve read the pile of leaves for hibernating comment which I will put him into shortly but are the sacks an issue

    1. Hi Ava and Poppy,
      Good work with putting him in a cardboard box and with the leaves.
      I don’t much like the sound of the little sacks. I think i would maybe get him checked over by the vet or your local hedgehog rescue.
      And it’s still a little early for hibernation because it’s such a warm autumn.
      Let me know how you get on.
      Best
      Clare

  13. Hi Claire,
    I have hedgehogs regularly in my cottage garden which is bordered with a tall privet hedge. There are plenty of natural areas for them to forage & nest as well as two hedgehog houses filled with straw. I feed them every night with meat flavoured dry cat food and leave out several dishes of water.
    Earlier this week I found a small hoglet on my garden path which, due to its weight (under 100g) & a small injury on its back is now being cared for by a wildlife hospital. Today at 1pm I found another, still fairly small but significantly bigger than the previous one who appears absolutely fine. It is showing no sign of injury, moving around easily and eating the extra food I have put down. It has also had a drink of water.
    There seems to be mixed messages online, some saying a hedgehog out in the day is definitely in need of help, others that say that they do come out in daytime although less often than at night, generally in search of food and often when the weather is mild.
    As it seems fine, is bright & alert and travelling back & for from the spot where I’ve seen it to an area at the base of the hedge & behind the fence should I just keep an eye on it?
    I am able to send photos but cannot find a way of attaching them to this.
    I would appreciate your advice. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Janet,
      Hoglets born late in the year will forage in the daytime to put on the weight they need for hibernation. So if it looks fine, just keep the food coming and keep an eye on it.
      When the temperature drops below 5c at night for a full week they will start to hibernate. At this point you should weigh the hoglet. If she is under 500gms then she will need to be taken in and given some help.
      Good Luck!
      Clare

  14. I’ve just found a hedgehog hibernating in the garden, under a carefully created leaf pile in a flower bed nestled next to a tree. Should I just leave it be, or try and weigh it now it is already in its little winter bed? I’ve put lots of canes around it so the leaves don’t blow away but also thinking of a waterproof cover for when it rains to keep it dry. Do you have any advice? Thanks

    1. Hi Nicola,

      If it’s hibernating already and you can leave that area of your garden quiet for the winter I think you should leave it.

      I would hope that the leaf pile will provide all the water out, you shouldn’t need to add anything. Just leave a little dry food and some fresh water near by, so when he wakes to stretch his legs he has something to nibble on.

      Best of luck!

      Clare

  15. I just found a hedgehog in my front garden. It ran off into the bush, looked pregnant. We do have lots of cats about in this neighbourhood. Hope he’s okay! 🦔

  16. Hi Claire. Its 4am and I’ve just found a hedgehog in my enclosed garden. No idea how it could have got there! There’s plenty of places it can make a nest but I don’t know how it can get out!
    My dog woke us up and went out and started barking. (The dog has a cat flap in the back door)
    I woke up and went out to see what the fuss was about and found a large hedgehog curled up on the path. I’m going to leave it for now but what shod I do in the morning?

    1. Hi Roy,

      I hope your hog is OK! If he got in, there must be a way for him to get out. But if in doubt phone your local hedge rescue.

      best of luck and let us know how you got on.

      Clare

      1. Hi there
        Me and my partner are about to replace our decking and have found a large hedgehog all nestle in one of the sections. We need to get the decking up but have stopped until we know what to do. Do I call someone to rehome him/her as we don’t want to do anymore work while he/she is there. I would love it to stay but don’t know what to
        Thanks

        1. Hi Gemma,

          I would have a chat with your local rescuers. It’s May now, so your hog should not be hibernating still, and probably doesn’t have babies yet. If its just having a daytime nap in there it’s ok to move to a hedgehog house or another quiet part of the garden.

          but best to check first.

          Good Luck!

          Clare

  17. Hi Clare I found a hedgehog sitting at the side of the path that we have around our meadow at about 2pm on Tuesday. I did not disturb it. However, it was in exactly the same position Wednesday at about 3pm. I picked it up and put it in the garage in a box with some dried grass and leaves and left a bowl of water and some meaty cat food for it. On Thursday morning it had eaten some of the food and drunk some of the water and was asleep. Assuming it was ok I put it back in the meadow where I’d found it, however on Friday morning it hadn’t moved overnight and was asleep. I brought it in again and put more food and water out for it, it has been asleep now since Thursday morning and hasn’t touched the food or water, is it possible that it’s trying to hibernate despite the lovely weather? It looks to be in good shape and seems contented, can you advise what I should do?

    1. Hi Chris,

      Sounds like there may be something wrong with the hog that isn’t visible.

      I think having a word with your local vet or rescuers would be a good idea.

      Best

      Clare

  18. Hi,
    I am so excited!
    Couple of days ago I’ve spotted two lovely hogs in our garden. One is slightly smaller than other.
    They do have a nest in our garden for sure, in leaf pile in the corner (I am so happy that I didn’t let my other half to clean them!) as I’ve seen them coming out from there.

    How can I help them to gain weight and be more happy and welcome at our place?
    What foods are safe for them?

    There are some roads around us which are not so busy, there is alot of cats in or neighbourhood inluding ours and I want to make sure they will be safe too.

    Any advice will be appreciated.

    Regards

    Marie

  19. Hi Clare
    Just found you , it’s nice to see what other people have written about hedghogs. I made a hedgehog hotel with one room for sleeping and another room for their food, I say their as I have two hedgehogs, two weeks ago I had three , would they be all female. At the moment I have two staying and I feed them with spikes dry hedgehog food they love it. I leave a bowl of water outside for them and change it every night as it is always muddy . Can you tell me how to see if they are female or male.
    Regards
    Paul

  20. My 9year old son came running into the house last night saying he’s found hedgehog poo, I really hope he has!! I’m not sure how one would have got in my garden though unless he’s gone under my side gate?!? All the fences are secure. Do they walk along pavements or stick them o woods and fields? Many thanks

    1. How Exciting Laura!

      Yes they do travel along pavements, and if there’s a few inches gap under your gate they will get through.

      Put some food and water out and he may come back.

      C

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