WHAT IS AN AUTUMN JUVENILE?
Autumn juvenile hedgehogs are ones that are old enough to be away from their mothers but too small to hibernate. The autumn juvenile season can start as early as September and is busy through until the end of November. However some will struggle on and the occasional one can be found from December through until April. [The season will vary slightly depending whether you live in the south or north and depending on the weather.] The ones found in March and April may have struggled through the winter or they may have hibernated but at the minimum weight for hibernation so they are weakly once they emerge.
Young hedgehogs can and will hibernate at 450gms (1lb) or less but are unlikely to survive. It is preferable for them to weigh 600gms (22oz) in order to hibernate successfully and be in sufficiently good condition to survive post hibernation.
Giving advice on whether to leave them out in the garden and keep feeding them or whether to bring them indoors and over-winter them can be difficult. Left outside it is more difficult to monitor them and if they start to have problems and hide away they can just die. If they are brought indoors the stress of captivity can also kill them. So the following advice will be correct for some hedgehogs and not for others.
HEDGEHOGS THAT CAN PROBABLY BE LEFT IN THE WILD
If the hedgehog is a regular visitor to your garden, is only seen at night, appears active and you are prepared to feed it every night then it can be left in the wild.
See notes on feeding and feeding stations.
However if the hedgehog goes off its food, wobbles and staggers or starts coming out in the day or you notice it has green slimy poo especially if there is blood in it, then it needs extra help asap (see basic first aid).
Even if you have to bring a hedgehog in do keep putting food outside for at least a few more nights, as there may be siblings or other autumn juveniles making the most of your hospitality. If the food does not go, you could still continue to provide dry cat biscuits – these will not go off as quickly as tinned food, so are less wasteful.
Make sure there is water available, especially if feeding dry foods.
Much more information in the leaflet available from The British Hedgehog Preservation Society at