A hedgehog who invites himself into the garden or another found in distress during a walk … Whatever the circumstances, it occurred to you to adopt a hedgehog. But is it a legal act? And are there any precautions to take?
The hedgehog is a protected animal
The hedgehog is protected by Annex III of the European Convention of Bern on the conservation of wild life and the natural environment. Signed by 50 countries, including France, and by the European Union, this convention commits states to taking into account the impact of developments on the environment, but also to promote education and information on wildlife. . Since 1981, in France, the hedgehog has been one of the protected species. This protection was reinforced by a decree dating from 2007.
This protection is justified by the fact that the hedgehog population would have decreased by 40% in 20 years. While there are no studies dedicated to hedgehogs, this number is an extrapolation of what scientists observe for all small mammals that eat insects. Hedgehogs are victims road accidents and poaching. The use of pesticides reduces the number of insects that form the basis of their diet. However, we should not be alarmist because the specialists are clear: the hedgehog will not disappear in the next 10 years, contrary to the false information which can circulate on this subject.
This protection leads to the prohibition of keeping a hedgehog. You cannot keep him in a fenced space, even under the pretext of ensuring him a peaceful recovery. If the ban is violated, you risk jail time and a fine. The latter can reach 300,000 euros if the animal was taken in a national park or a nature reserve. The ban also applies to transport. If you consider it necessary, you can definitely report to the National Hunting and Wildlife Office people who have captured or kept hedgehogs.
What if you find a hedgehog in distress?
If you find a hedgehog in distress, you should immediately contact the wildlife care center closest to where you are located. Depending on the situation, the center can give you its agreement so that you bring them the hedgehog for support by qualified people. This agreement is important because in the event of a traffic stop, the police will check that you are not illegal. But the hedgehog remains a wild animal, and in this it is difficult to handle.
If the hedgehog is in distress, do not try to give it anything, milk or kibble. The hedgehog is an extremely complex and the care to be carried out is assessed on a case-by-case basis depending on whether it is a male or a female, whether he has parasites or not, whether he is dehydrated or not, etc. On the other hand, a hedgehog that seems to be getting better may die back again within a few days.
How can you help protect hedgehogs?
Experts advise against feeding hedgehogs. They must stay wild and not become dependent on humans as this too can compromise their survival. If the temperatures are high and it hasn’t rained for a long time, the first instinct is to provide them with a cup of clear water. Some cat food can also be given. But when the temperature drops, do not stop giving food suddenly but do it gradually.
You can also build a shelter for hedgehog, sheltered from wind, sun and rain. It can be very easy to set up. A plank, wedged along a wall with a stone so that it does not slip, or cinder blocks arranged in a square to create an enclosure, one of them being spread on an edge to leave a passage of 12 cm wide, and covered with a board. Place the shelter near a hedge if possible. These two shelters are filled with a good pile of fallen leaves or straw. The wooden planks can be covered with a piece of plastic sheeting to better protect the nest from the rain.
If you have a garden and are keen to make it hedgehog-friendly, put your garden tools away: rakes, chainsaws and hedge trimmers pose serious and often fatal injury risks to hedgehogs.
You must not adopt a hedgehog
Nocturnal, solitary and shy, the hedgehog is impossible to domesticate. It has no territory and is therefore able to travel many kilometers. In summer, it changes nest every 2 or 3 days. It does not support its congeners, except to reproduce. These few indications show that wanting to enclose a hedgehog in an enclosure is contrary to its well-being.
In addition, hedgehogs are carriers of many diseases and parasites such as salmonellosis, ringworm, scabies, ticks, etc. Which can be transmitted to humans. The hedgehog is a very cute animal, and although it has quills, the temptation to take it in the hands is great. But it is really recommended not to touch a hedgehog carelessly.
While some people dare to claim that adopting a hedgehog helps protect the species because these animals would reproduce more easily in captivity, they ultimately only fuel behaviors that can make these wild animals very unfortunate, in addition to pushing to commit an illegal act.
If you want to take care of hedgehogs, there is a very useful way to do it. As long as you are available enough to perform healing, you can become a “hedgehog ability”. For this, you must submit a request to your departmental population protection directorate. To obtain a certificate of competence, you will have to follow a training course of around 70 hours and then go before a jury. It requires a real personal investment.
Getting to know the hedgehog better …
Hedgehogs can be considered as true auxiliaries of our gardens, because, being carnivorous, they eat slugs, snails or earthworms. He himself fears the badger and the fox, which are his main predators. The hedgehog sleeps most of the day and hunts at night. As the hedgehog winters during the winter months, it is observed between April and September.
It usually breeds at the end of winter. The little hedgehog is called the choupisson. At birth, it bears no thorns but covers itself in a few hours with a hundred white thorns.