THE RSPCA are urging the public to look out for hedgehogs – as the number of the small creatures taken into their care has already topped last year’s figures.

RSPCA has four wildlife centres which have taken 1,896 hedgehogs into their care by mid-November, compared to 1,883 in the whole of 2020.

The animal welfare charity believes that this winter could be tough on the nocturnal animals as hedgehogs born late in the year are less likely to have enough fat reserves to survive the long winter hibernations without help.

They’ll have to forage longer to find enough food and this will often be during the day when concerned animal lovers step in to help them.

The RSPCA received 6,202 calls last year from people worried about sick, underweight, injured or orphaned hedgehogs. There were three calls from the Blaenau Gwent region, 32 from the Caerphilly borough, 25 from Monmouthshire, 86 from Newport and 20 from Torfaen.

The decision to intervene with a hedgehog depends on their weight during early winder and if they are healthy or not.

Evie Button, scientific officer for the RSPCA, said: “A cold snap can be lethal for underweight hedgehogs if it means they go into hibernation before they’ve put enough weight on.

“If you see a young hoglet that’s only about the size of an apple – around 300g – they really need to be rescued and taken to a rehabilitation facility, as they won’t have enough fat reserves to last the winter.

“We fear this may turn out to be a bad year for hedgehogs as admission numbers into out centres have already overtaken 2020’s. We urge people to visit our website for advice on what to do if they see a sick or injured hog, particularly if it’s out and about during the day.”


The RSPCA recommends:

  • If the hoglet weighs less than 300g (about the size of an apple), then it will need specialist care to survive the winter. Learn online how to capture and transport the animal to a rehabilitator.

The advice to take them to a rehabilitator also applies to hedgehogs of any size which are sick or injured, or seen out during the day during cold snaps 

  • If a juvenile hedgehog weighs between 300 and 500g after mid-October, they probably won't have enough weight to see them through the winter so may also need help. The RSPCA recommends following the BHPS advice for autumn juvenile hedgehogs which describes how to help them over winter.
  • If the hedgehog weighs over 500g and is only seen out at night, it should be healthy enough to hibernate as normal in the wild. They'll be foraging for food overnight so if you can, keep providing food in the garden as this will help them to put on even more weight before hibernation. Hedgehogs will often wake up from hibernation and forage for food at least once during winter, so providing food in the garden throughout winter will also help. 

Manager of the RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk, Evangelos Achilleos said: “We’ve recently seen a real influx of hedgehogs and hoglets in our care. Over Christmas, we could be caring for as many as 200 hedgehogs at East Winch alone. 

“Although hedgehogs are small they can need as much care and attention as the larger wild animals at our centres. The RSPCA received 51,000 calls last December, that’s one call every minute. We received one report of an abandoned animal every hour and took 70 rescue animals into RSPCA care every day. As we were in lockdown last year, we expect these figures to rise this Christmas. We’re asking people to Join the Rescue this Christmas to help bring animals to safety this festive season.”