It is December and hedgehogs should be hibernating - so why do we get calls almost every night asking if it is okay for a hedgehog to be trundling round a garden?

The answer isn’t easy. If the person has seen a large hedgehog and it is eating food that has been left out, then it is probably alright.

We suggest that the person leaves out food regularly, checks every evening, and if the hedgehog food gets left then the hedgehog has probably hibernated.

But most of these hedgehogs are small. Some that have come into care during the last two weeks weigh less than 500gm. At least half of them weigh less than 300gm

The recommended weight for a hedgehog going into hibernation is 700gm. There isn’t much chance of small hedgehogs finding enough food at this time of year, to gain that much weight.

Most people are happy to keep the hedgehog in a cardboard box or pet carrier for the night, and bring it to Hessilhead in the morning.

The problem with these small hedgehogs is their age. Hedgehogs are usually born between May and September, and that gives even the youngest time to eat enough food to gain weight.

Those born later in the year don’t have that time, and even if people are feeding them it can still be difficult for a small hedgehog to gain enough weight.

Our hedgehog facility is full. There are hedgehogs in the main hospital too, all eating well and looking forward to spring.