JAM JAR ARMY: Few hedgehogs born will reach adulthood

One of the 'old ladies' at Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust.
One of the 'old ladies' at Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust.
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Hedgehogs have a very difficult time trying to survive the various hazards they encounter.

The normal litter size is usually four or five, but sometimes there are as many as seven urchins (their official name, although they are sometimes affectionately known as hoglets).

The Gazette's Jam Jar campaign

The Gazette's Jam Jar campaign

The litter is usually born in June, although they do sometimes have a second litter in September or October with little chance of those hogs surviving due to not being able to gain sufficient weight before winter.

In a litter, approximately half will survive to the weaning stage at four weeks, but only one may survive to reach one year old. Not a very successful outcome, is it?

The average life-span for the majority of hedgehogs is approximately two years, but occasionally one will reach ‘old’ age and we have one here with us at present.

We cannot be sure of her exact age of course, but looking at the quality of her teeth, the fact she is quite ginger (they don’t go grey like us) and the age spots on her tummy will possibly make her around seven or eight – quite an old lady in hedgehog terms. Their noses and feet also go pinkish as they age.

She came to us with an ear infection which was causing her to spin round in circles initially and now that is clear following a course of medication she’s settled down, is eating well and may go into hibernation in due course. We hope she will survive the winter here with us and can then be released back into the wild in the spring.

We’re always rather fond and have a great deal of respect for the old ‘uns.