Baby animals are cute , innocent and extremely demanding ! Deciding to raise an orphan or injured baby is a massive undertaking both in terms of time and sometimes emotions as well . Like all things to do with nature there are no guarantees sometimes the outcome is wonderful and sometimes it can break your heart .
There is one major consideration before anyone should take a baby from the wild and that is that you have to be sure that the infant is really alone and abandoned. There is no substitute for its natural mother and we cannot take her place .
Sometimes the mother may decide to move the young to another den / earth or drey so you may find a youngster seemingly alone but the mother may just be close by . Some baby birds are encouraged to leave the nest early and the parents are near by feeding and taking care of them . Owls are often found at the base of trees this again is part of the “growing up “ process . So, if you find a baby stand at a distance and wait and watch for a while just in case the parents are nearby .
The one overriding factor in any situation is danger . If the baby is in any danger eg predators , traffic or any other risk you must take action to save it . If the baby is injured or disabled you must help it .
A hedgehog out in daylight is very unusual and the animal will most certainly need assistance. Around October the babies are pushed out to find their own territories and to stand any chance of making it through the winter they need to weigh at least 500 grams so any small hoglet will a need help if they are out on their own .
Use gloves to pick the hoglet up around the middle of its body and place it in a cardboard box or other container .Put a towel in the bottom of the box . If you can get a hot water bottle in the box , wrapped in a towel soap not to burn the hedgehog , this would help a great deal because body heat is nearly always lost when an animal gets distressed . Contact a wildlife rescue ASAP . Put the box in a quiet place and avoid disturbing the hedgehog. Stress is one of the biggest killers of wildlife . Remember to most wildlife we are the thing that they fear the most . A soothing voice to them is terrifying as is a gentle stroke . Generally leave them alone is the best thing .
This is a guide for all young animals .Squirrels , rabbits , voles etc only take the baby if you are certain that the mother is not taking care of it . Keeping them warm is the most important thing . They cannot eat or drink until their body temperature is normal remember a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel so that the animal cannot make contact with the bottle itself . Leave some space in case the baby wishes to move from the heat . Don’t let the bottle get cold because this could cause hypothermia which could easily kill the baby .
If, during their stay with you the baby begins to act normally and the body temperature has risen you may offer a little water but only a little eg on a cotton bud so that the baby can suck a little or lick the drips . Try to avoid a bowl because they could easily drown in it .
Be very careful when handling squirrels as they can deliver a nasty bite , even when young !