Our award-winning Animal Nursing Assistant, Bridget Davidson has established a Rescue Centre for sick and injured hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal animals, so if you see one out during the day, it may be sick or injured, especially if it is moving very slowly or appears unable to curl up into a protective ball.
More about hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are well established in our urban habitat and survive very well in our towns, making good use of cemeteries, railway land, wasteland and public and private gardens.
The hedgehog is known as the ‘Gardener’s Friend’ as it will eat slugs, beetles, caterpillars etc., and it does no harm, so if you have a garden a hedgehog is to be encouraged. They should not be kept in close captivity, but regarded as welcome visitors. You should keep your garden free of pesticides. Ingestion of slug pellets or slugs killed by them is fatal to hedgehogs. If you have to use slug pellets place them in a narrow tube/pipe and remove any dead slugs or snails daily. It is much kinder to the environment to let the hedgehogs do the pest control!
Hedgehogs are basically insect eaters. They enjoy mainly beetles, caterpillars, snails and slugs, and they also like earthworms. They are very noisy eaters and can be heard munching through their dinner. Some people like to leave out a small dish of a meat-based diet for their garden friends. It is advisable to avoid diets containing fish, bread and milk, and to leave fresh water available at all times, especially on hot summer days.
Hedgehogs will climb inside compost heaps and bonfires so be careful if setting these alight.
Garden ponds can be hazardous to hedgehogs. Although hedgehogs are good swimmers they can get stuck in garden ponds if the sides don’t have a gentle slope. Hoglets need an even longer ramp than an adult hedgehog. You can make it easier for hedgehogs by half submerging rocks or bricks around the edge of your pond, or by hanging some chicken wire around the edge for the hedgehog to cling on to.
Strimmers can be lethal to hedgehogs. Take care when using these in long grass. It is not uncommon for us to get dismembered hedgehogs in the surgery during the summer months, due to over-zealous use of strimmers. Other potential hazards to hedgehogs are pea-netting, uncovered drains, bean trenches and rubbish bags, all of which cause entrapment.
If you would like any further information about Hedgehogs or find an injured one please contact Bridget at Rathgael Veterinary Clinic. 02891454129. The clinic is now a member of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and will be available to treat and rehabilitate injured or sick hedgehogs.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR DONATIONS OF OLD HAND-TOWELS TO USE IN OUR HEDGEHOG RESCUE CENTRE. ANY DONATION IS MUCH APPRECIATED. PLEASE CONTACT THE SURGERY IF YOU REQUIRE COLLECTION.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Royal Mail gets through 2 million red elastic bands a day. If your postman drops these elastic bands they can injure or even kill hedgehogs.
The little hedgehog in the picture had to be given a general anaesthetic because the elastic band had become embedded in the skin and muscle. This hedgehog was lucky and survived; others must suffer slow, miserable and unnecessary deaths.
Please encourage your postman not to litter elastic bands but instead to re-use them so that our Hedgehogs don’t end up injured or dead.
OLD HAND-TOWEL APPEAL
Currently we have 4 hedgehogs in the unit, 3 babies and 1 adult.
We welcome any donations of old hand-towels for use in the unit.
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #8
22 August 2012
Chunk was brought in to the surgery 5 weeks ago. He had been attacked by a dog and the wound on his neck was 50% the circumference of his neck. The wound was gangrenous and full of maggots. After lots of intensive care his wound has healed. We used lots of manuka honey to clean out the wound. The spines are starting to regrow.
Chunk has gained 0.6kg and now weighs 1.4kg. He is to be released this evening and I'm sure he will be delighted to get some exercise!
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #7
14/08/12 throughtout this summer we have been working with lots of orphaned babies. Some of them are presented to the hedgehog unit in an emaciated state and unfortunatley these babies don't survive as they can't cope with being hand-reared.
Currently we have 3 babies which are thriving and gaining weight every day.
Please keep an eye out for baby hedgehogs in your garden and if you have any concerns as to whether they need help, contact Bridget for advice.
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #6
11/11/11 - we now have 3 hedgehogs in the rescue ward. Vincent and Winston are slowly closing down for winter and starting to hibernate. Friar Tuck, on the other hand, only weighs 0.4kg and is too light to hibernate. We will keep warm to prevent him hibernating until he weighs 0.6kg.
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #5
Recently we have seen a few more strimmer injuries. Vincent was sliced from the top of her head, round her neck, along her flank to her tail. She has had 2 surgeries on her wounds and she is currently being treated with antibiotics and painkillers. Despite her injuries she is eating well. Unfortunatelt she lost alot of spines in her accident and she is also having difficulties rolling. We expect that if she survives she will have to over-winter with us and be released in the spring.
Vincent has now fully recovered from her injuries and her spines are starting to re-growth. She weighs a healthey 0.7kg and is showing signs of going into hibernation.
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #4
Sam was brought to our surgery from another veterinary practice. He had lost his left eye and part of his left ear. The scars on his face would be consistent with a strimmer injury. He has been nursed back to health and will be released soon.
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #3
Simon was brought in to the surgery on Mon 16 May 2011. He had an open fracture of his right hind leg, the wound was full of maggots. We suspect he got his leg trapped and that he'd been struggling to get around for a few days. He had the leg ampuated and is now recovering from surgery. Simon is eating and drinking well and he's managing to get around on 3 legs.
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #2
Maisy and Harry have been released into the wild, under the watchful eye of a friendly hedgehog lover.
Maisy took it in her stride and returned later in the evening for her supper. Maisy had been with us for 5 months and she is ready to breed. She is a healthy weight after her hibernation.
Harry, however, was not as keen to see the world and he rolled up in a ball for a while. Eventually he disappeared into the undergrowth to find a mate.
Bridget was very sad to see her hedgehogs go. We are all proud of Bridget and her dedication to looking after and caring for these wonderful animals.
HEDGEHOG UPDATE #1
Maisy came to us in Nov 2010. As she was underweight she could not be considered for hibernation, weighing in at 0.3kg. By Christmas her weight had gone up to 0.45kg, but this is still to light to undergo full winters hibernation. Therefore she has wintered with us here in the practice. Now she weighs a very healthy 0.9kg, and after a shorter hibernation, she is getting ready to wake up. As spring approaches we are preparing to release her in one of our clients gardens, who already has a group of hedgehogs that visit regularly. With her support and a helping dish of cat food in the evening Maisy should soon find her feet back in the wild.
A concerned client who had been feeding him with cat biscuits brought in Harry to the practice in December 2010. She was very worried about the severe weather that we were having at that time. Harry’s story is very similar to Maisy’s. He too weighed a very light 0.3kg and would certainly have perished in the heavy snow. Due to the quick thinking of our client, he has spent the winter with us at the practice and really prospered. He now weighs 0.95kg and he too is getting ready to be released. He will go to the same garden as Maisy. Who knows we might hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet soon.
OLD HAND-TOWEL APPEAL
Currently we have 4 hedgehogs in our Hedgehog Rescue Centre.
Vincent is recovering from surgery and Winston being rehabilitated after being poisoned. Vincent and Winston are not strong enough to be released in to the wild and they will be hibernating with us this winter, with the hope of release in the spring.
Friar Tuck and Sarah are both too little and lightweight to hibernate and they will stay with us for the winter to build up strength.
We are looking for donations of old hand-towels for use in the hedgehog unit. The hogs like to snuggle under a towel when they are sleeping.
All donations are welcome. November 2011
People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) are appealing to people to take part in a new wildlife survey to help determine whether climate change is having an impact on when hedgehogs emerge from hibernation and how this might be affecting their survival.
Last year, PTES and BHPS published The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs, an independent study which confirmed evidence from eight existing UK wildlife surveys that hedgehog populations have plummeted by at least a quarter over the last decade. The decline of the species is attributed to a number of environmental factors, but with more extreme weather fluctuations recorded in recent seasons, might climate change be another contributing issue?
Research in the 1970s by Britain’s foremost expert on hedgehogs, Dr Pat Morris (formerly of Royal Holloway, University of London), revealed a direct link between hibernation and climate: hedgehogs came out of hibernation up to three weeks earlier in the South West of England compared to Scotland.
Please record your sightings of hedgehogs as they start to emerge in spring after hibernation. If you are interested in taking part, please sign-up for the survey before 1st February at the Hedgehog Street website.
The results from the survey, the first of its kind, will be used to help scientists understand the hedgehog’s life cycle better, including hibernation.
Posted on 17th January, 2012
Thanks to everyone who donated to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. A cheque for £75 was sent to them and received with thanks.
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