What to do when you "meet" a hedgehog

The European hedgehog is a wild animal, safeguarded and protected by many laws, therefore it is not possible to keep it or have it as a pet!

Anyway, in case it is necessary, it is very important to take it to a CRAS (Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre) where it can be taken care of.
Wearing a pair of gloves, you must gently take the animal and put it in a box near a hot-water bottle to make sure its body temperature is kept adequate.
You must leave it quiet, in the dark, without giving it any kind of food or medicine before having contacted a veterinary or a specialized centre. It is important to telephone the National Corps of Foresters or the Province Policemen to get information about the closest CRAS.
You must help all hedgehogs whose weight, in September/October, is under the minimum necessary to go through hibernation: 500/600 g.
This is very important, because without the proper reserves of subcutaneous fat to be burnt up during the winter the hedgehog dies while sleeping or keeps on wandering desperately looking for food that cannot be found, and it dies.
You must take any hedgehog that is:
• wounded
• infested by ticks (main cause of death for serious anaemia) and fleas
• ill (you suspect that it is ill when it lays on one side, staggers, drags its rear legs, has problems in walking)
• orphan, wandering in search of its mother
• wandering during the day (the hedgehog is a nocturnal animal, during daylight it can normally sleep up to 18 hours)
• animals who are in areas of upcoming danger (wells, manholes, very busy roads, swimming pools, wire nets, garden meshes, mousetraps, construction yards, etc.)


From end of April to end of September, you must be especially careful because the hedgehog may be a mother that is nursing babies.
Make sure that there is not a litter of baby hedgehogs hidden in the bushes nearby, waiting for mum hedgehog.

If necessary, take the little ones wearing a pair of gloves, put them in a box with a hot-water bottle and take them to a Hedgehog Care Centre as soon as possible.

BE CAREFUL: do not put the baby hedgehogs in the same box as their mother, because she could be frightened, fail to recognize them, and kill them.
Even when the hedgehog is in a situation of upcoming danger, as stated above, you must move it from there as little as possible, in order to prevent the risk of taking a mum too far from her babies: the animal must not be taken nor handed over to rehabilitation centres!
Never give food to the hedgehogs you are helping, because there may be wounds in their palate or their jaw may be injured, and any do-it-yourself action, such as giving food, can make an already difficult situation worse.
When the hedgehogs are orphans weighing less than 150 g it is worth underlying that the rehabilitation must be immediate. In order to prevent the animal to get too cold, you must remember to put it in a box with a hot-water bottle; it also needs to be given water and to be fed to avoid hypoglycaemia.
The baby is fed every 3 hours, with a special milk: ESBILAC
ฎ (Chifa); in case of emergency, a fennel infusion or goat milk is suitable, while waiting to have ESBILAC ฎ.
The milk must be warm, and must be given with a small tuberculin syringe (1ml), without needle.
After each feed, a massage in the anal area is made in order to stimulate evacuation; to this aim, it is possible to use almond or olive oil to avoid irritations.


Weight of hedgehog

ml in 24 h

ml for each meal

Number of meals

  30 g




  40 g




  50 g




  60 g




  70 g




  80 g




  90 g




100 g





• Cow milk, milk for children, milk for kittens
• By-products of milk
• Almonds (because they contain hydrocyanic acid, toxic for hedgehogs)
• Hazelnuts (many hedgehogs have been taken to the centre in emergency conditions because of hazelnuts wedged in the trachea)
If you want to help a hedgehog in summer, it is important to use a parasiticide for fleas and ticks (for example Advantage phials for kittens, half phial every 500 g): to prevent anaemia caused by ticks in a hedgehog means that it can live longer and better!


• Always have a corner with many little branches and leaves in the garden: the hedgehog will use them to build its nest, to rest during the day, or mums hedgehogs can give birth there; extremely clean and tidy gardens and gardens are not very suitable for hedgehogs.
• In gardens, never use slug and snail killers or herbicides, that weaken hedgehogs’ immune system or kill them immediately if they eat poisoned slugs or snails. There are products, imported from Germany, which are harmless for hedgehogs; keep on asking your shopkeeper to have these products available!

• In summer, every evening, put clean, cool water in a shallow bowl, outside the door or in the garden (hedgehog can die of thirst and go near the houses to look for food, but most of all water: nowadays, due to the kind of cultivations adopted, the countryside is getting less and less suitable for the hedgehog, who become a suburban animal).

• Place croquettes or canned meat for cats in a little house-manger (or a wicker basket turned upside down...) with a door of 10x10 cm, to make sure that hedgehogs, and not cats and/or dogs, eat from it.

• Last, but definitely not least (this is extremely important actually), and we will always keep on repeating it: NEVER do-it-yourself! After a first aid, take the animal to a veterinary, to SOS Ricci or to another Wildlife Care Centre of the province, asking for information to the Province Policemen and the National Corps of Foresters!

SOS RICCI is always available for information:
please call +39 339 2942329
email: marina@sosricci.it