Helping hedgehogs

Helping hedgehogs

© Gillian Day

Prickly characters

Small, round, brown and famously covered in spines, the Hedgehog is one of our most iconic mammals.

Hedgehogs eat all kinds of pests - they particularly like big, crunchy beetles and slugs, making them a gardener's best friend. Insect-rich lawns and flowerbeds make excellent feeding grounds at dusk, so a wildlife friendly garden will attract them to your patch.

Why don’t we see hedgehogs any more?

Hedgehogs are disappearing faster than tigers! Numbers have fallen by nearly a third since 2002. In 1950 the UK population was roughly 30 million, but fewer than one million hedgehogs are now thought to be left.

The decline of hedgehogs can be blamed on the loss of hedgerows, the over-management of parks and gardens, loss of green space to paving/decking and the use of chemical pesticides, leading to fewer insects for hedgehogs to eat.

How do I know if hedgehogs visit my garden?

Look out for hedgehog poo; medium-sized, black droppings consisting of bits of beetles and other insects, often found on the lawn and looks like a dark slug!

Hedgehogs in garden

© Jon Hawkins

Have you seen a hedgehog?

Have you seen a hedgehog dead or alive? Please let us know!

We are looking for Surrey's hedgehog hotspots - the more we know about their distribution, the better we can help these precious creatures.

Record a sighting

Help the hedgehog!

Follow our top tips for helping hedgehogs at home.

Hedgehog highways

Cut a small hole in the bottom of your garden fence to provide a corridor for hedgehogs to move between gardens. They can travel up to 2km a night!

How to create a hedgehog hole

Home sweet home

Build or buy a hedgehog house and locate it in a quiet corner of your garden.

How to build a hedgehog home

Cut the chemicals

Reduce poisonous garden pesticides and ditch slug pellets for environmentally friendly alternatives. Hedgehogs will also eat slugs and other garden pests.

Pesticide free gardening

What's for dinner?

Don’t be too tidy, leave a pile of leaves in a corner, keep a section of your lawn long and provide a log pile that will harbour lots of tasty invertebrate snacks.

How to build a minibeast log shelter

Feeding hedgehogs

Hedgehogs relish meat-based wet dog or cat food or cat biscuits (no fish). Place in a shallow dish and put in a sheltered area of your garden at dusk. You can also buy special hedgehog food.

Don't forget to put out water too.

NEVER give a hedgehog cow’s milk or bread as this is extremely harmful to them.

Feeding hedgehog

© Gillian Day

Hedgehogs & bonfires

Check compost heaps before digging in a fork. Also check your bonfire for hibernating hedgehogs before lighting it in autumn - a good tip is to leave it until the last minute or ring the pile with chickenwire.

Hedgehog FAQ

Frequently asked questions about hedgehogs and their care.

I have seen a hedgehog out during the day

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, they sleep during the day and come out at night. If a hedgehog is out during the day it means that something is wrong and the hedgehog most likely needs help.

See a list of hedgehog rescue centres below.

I have a sick hedgehog

Handle the hedgehog with thick gloves as their spines can hurt and they may bite. Carefully pick the hedgehog up and put it in a high sided cardboard box with newspaper and an old towel. You could also add a hot water bottle (or a plastic drinks bottle) filled with warm water and wrapped in a towel to allow it to warm the hog gently. This will help an animal that is suffering from shock. The hedgehog should then be taken to a wildlife hospital or specialist rescue as soon as possible.

See a list of hedgehog rescue centres below.

What can I feed hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs love meaty cat food (no fish) and water. NEVER give a hedgehog cow’s milk or bread as this is extremely harmful to them.


I have seen a small hedgehog in autumn

To survive the winter a hedgehog needs to weigh 600 grams by late autumn. If you see any small hedgehogs at this time, then take them to one of the rescue centres listed below. They are too small to hibernate and so need to be looked after to build up their fat reserves.

I have disturbed a hibernating hedgehog

If you come across a hibernating hedgehog, please try to carefully replace the nest material you disturbed. It's fairly likely the hog will come out of hibernation so please ensure you leave it some food and more importantly water, so it can quickly replenish its used stocks and get back to hibernating again.

I have found a nest of hoglets

A female hedgehog will leave her hoglets to go and find food, so if you find a nest of hoglets they have not necessarily been abandoned. If the hoglets seem warm, content and sleeping, please leave them alone. If they are cold, or making a high pitched “hungry” noise, or the nest has been destroyed, they will need to be brought to your nearest wildlife centre.

See a list of hedgehog rescue centres below.

Hedgehog rescue centres

If you find a sick, injured or orphaned hedgehog please contact one of the organisations below:

Wildlife Aid – North Surrey

Randalls Farm House, Randalls Rd, Leatherhead KT22 0AL

Telephone 24hr Emergency Helpline - 01372 360404 (calls charged at local rate)

Harper Asprey – North East Surrey

Windlesham, Surrey, GU20 6YW
Telephone 01344 623106 8am-4pm

Shepperton Hedgehog Sanctuary – North Surrey

109 Old Charlton Road, Shepperton, Surrey, TW17 8BT

Tel: 01932 889182

Hart Wildlife Rescue – South West Surrey

Unit 9, Lower Soldridge Business Park, Medstead Nr Alton, Hampshire GU34 5JF

Telephone 0913 580 0001 open from 9am - 5pm, 7 days a week. (Calls cost 61p plus a standard network rate charge. This charge is to aid with funding. Alternatively call 01420 562335.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society also have a detailed list of rescues and animal hospitals across the country. You can contact them on 01584 890 801.