Wildlife rescue centres nationwide, including the general public who work with them, are looking at this surprisingly nice weather we have been experiencing as a good sign indicating it is time to release the hedgehogs who have been over-wintering with us.
These hogs will have been kept in rescue’s over winter due to illness or injury either in the previous autumn or during the cold winter months. Every autumn Hedgehogs seem to suffer from a massive increase in lungworm problems so if underweight juvenile hogs, out during daylight (hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures), is usually an abnormal sign. Hedgehogs go into hibernation when the weather is cold. They need to have enough fat reserves to survive.
When the weather is warm enough, dry enough and the frosts have stopped, fully grown and recovered hogs can be released. This is always the end goal of any rehabilitation centre; to release wildlife back into their natural habitats and continue to life their natural lives, to breed and contribute to the population’s numbers.
Ideally and where possible, we try to release hedgehogs back into their original habitat with the idea that more familiarity may lead to increased survival rates. Unfortunately, but understandably, sometimes this is not possible as that particular habitat lead to the patient’s initial illness or injury.
So, at this time, please be aware that post hibernation and post release there may be more hedgehogs and wildlife about and so when you are gardening consider that they may be present in higher numbers. For example, strimmer injuries are extremely common. Hedgehogs have found refuge in overgrown shrubbery, are not spotted in the dense greenery and suffer life-threating injuries.
It goes without saying, although improving, we see injuries related to plastic pollution and human rubbish such as plastic bottles and rubber bands. We have room to improve further here. As they emerge and are discovering their world in a new season, you can help in your garden by leaving water and food sources for them overnight. If you have garden cameras, these are hugely entertaining!