Working Together National Campaign
My goodness what a week it has been.
I talked about our Willows National Line and Brush Cutter (Strimmer) awareness campaign 'Working Together' in my last news update but things have progressed rapidly in the last couple of weeks so I am going to take the time to write fully about it.
A nigh-time drive.
It all came about one night as I was driving home from work. We had I am sure at the time been dealing with strimmer injuries in the hedgehog hospital which was why the subject was in my mind. I realised that although there was strimmer awareness aimed at the general garden user there was non aimed at the professional user. Within hours of getting home I had designed what I hoped would become a warning triangle that manufacturers could put onto equipment. The original web page was born and letters had been sent out to all of the major manufacturers that I could find. Many didn't respond and of those that did non felt able to implement an awareness label or include wildlife aware information in manuals or on product packaging. After many communications I had to concede that this wasn't going to happen. So much for that idea then.
Stihl, Bosch and Makita however did join with us raising awareness through their social media channels and in product catalogues and BBC radio helped to promote this great news.
If the manufacturers couldn't attach a wildlife aware triangle (purposely designed by myself to fit in with the style of all the other mandatory warning labels on equipment and also pictorial so as to be easily understandable, language independent and not too large, or promote any single organisation- a universal sticker) then how about if we worked with the professional users to retro-fit them! Ah ha yes here was something to get our teeth into then....round two!
Work then commenced on a campaign, depot posters and flyers to be given to staff and included in training manuals. We also made the decision that these would be Working Together partnerships not just an email and do you want some stickers never to be spoken to again. We also didn't want to berate councils, contractors or the use of strimmers. We would ask for wildlife habitat to be left but where work did have to take place lets have the operators trained to be wildlife aware.
We came from a unique standpoint. We are a large rescue dealing with the aftermath of the 'careless' use of equipment. We see many times a year the horrific injuries, the orphaned hoglets, the hedgehogs that are too seriously injured and have to be put to sleep. We are talking about stomach churning injuries. Every image we have used is an admission from here at Willows.
We both work in local government, We have a good idea of the way councils work, how they are structured and how we might approach a project like this. Additional I work as a Ranger and in parks and as part of my duties liaise with contractors carrying out strimming work and yes, also am trained in the use of and use strimmers.
So add in passion, determination, experience, hedgehog knowledge and all the rest and we were champing at the bit.
Before even the public launch we contacted and spoke to many councils and initially launched with a good number of councils working with us. We met with those organisations, we took awareness to them, we involved councillors, the media (with a strict launch date embargo set), we delivered all of the awareness materials. The web pages were constructed but not published (not as easy to do as you might imagine when you want to drive forward). But we wanted to launch with a project not with the idea of a project and maybe tweeting people 'do you want to join in'. No the hard work went in first.
As I said earlier this isn't just about a sticker, it is a working partnership. We talk to every organisation that we work with. We talk to the people that can make change in those organisations, we provided all the information and materials and the awareness is included in those organisations operator training. Now in our second year of the campaign we have talked to all of the first years organisations again to ensure that the awareness is ongoing and supplying more awareness materials and warning triangles for new users, seasonal staff and any other additional requirements. These are working partnerships. Not a contact once and forget where it becomes meaningless or where the information might for all you know go in the bin. We also value the partnership aspect, it's not about our profile it's about our partners profiles and making a difference for hedgehogs and ground nesting wildlife. Without our partners there is no awareness- They are the important ones.
So we launched with partners already there and a real campaign not just an idea and an ask of 'will you join us?'.
We received a lot of regional media attention after the initial launch and stage three of contacting more councils and now contractors came into being.
Many hundreds of hours (and that is no exaggeration) have been spent by Jayne and I on top of full time jobs and running a busy rescue, many hundreds of hours getting contacts and speaking to people, educating about the what, the why, and solution. And that's the point we speak to everyone so they understand why we are doing this, what the issues are, how they can help, what we will provide, what we need them to do to become partners. Working Together.
Often calls would go nowhere and in fact over the winter even though working very hard we seemed to be gaining very little ground which brought with it frustration but slowly more councils and national contractors started to join us. Contractors brought with them multiple councils, other types of business that they carry out work for and as I write this the total has risen to 123 Councils covered, 9 major national contractors carrying out work for hundreds of businesses, a large housing trust with 10,000 residents raising awareness, Lantra the industry certification training organisation joining in awareness, people writing in support of the campaign including the wonderful Bill Oddie.
The momentum has been massive, our partners wonderful and greatly appreciated, public support so encouraging and now we have reached the stage where organisations are calling us to join in! So we've done it then!?
Not at all. Our National Awareness and partnerships are National, far reaching and growing but year two is just that, the second of many years. We are working just as hard to encourage more organisations to join with us, to take the awareness further to try and make a difference everywhere. Our partnerships are the core of our campaign and to make a partnership work it takes constant communication- we aren't ticking organisations off and then forgetting about them as 'done'.
So at the end of what has been a pretty crazy week with many campaign updates I would like to thank every single organisation working with us, every single member of those organisations that is involved from the decision makers to the operators and also those who have been supporting us with encouragement and celebrating our successes with us.
We've only just started.
You can find out more on our Working Together pages
Charlie. April 2016
Line Trimmer & Brush Cutter 'Strimmer' Awareness Campaign, #HelpHedgehogHospitals & Award Nomination
It has been an extremely long time (as was pointed out by a supporter) since I have updated our News pages. This is as a result of many other new pages being added to the website including projects and the admissions pages. However time to rectify that.
A lot has happened since 2014 when I last updated this page. The rescue has expanded, a new building built for hedgehogs that are off treatment, we achieved and passed RSPCA inspection and new projects have been started. For this update I will concentrate on one of our projects and a couple of upcoming events,
Working Together Line Trimmer & Brush Cutter Awareness.
A lot of awareness has been raised by organisations with the public as to the potential dangers of garden 'strimmers' but the largest professional users of this kind of equipment and those working on our countries road verges and green spaces had been overlooked.
Dealing with the result of strimmer injuries, both working in local government and myself working as a Ranger and in parks over the years for County and City councils we felt that this was something we had the knowledge and understanding to make a difference.
Our approach is also different. It isn't a case of 'do you want a sticker with our name on it' or to demonise users. We decided from the outset that we needed to actually speak to those managing the teams and to the operators to educate about the potential dangers. This has involved many hundreds of hours finding the right contacts, talking to service heads, visiting councils, raising the profile of the campaign as well as the production of a warning triangle to be placed onto equipment, information to be used in user training and depot display materials to remind operators. New organisations are coming on board this year (announcements to be made soon) but we have also recontacted the organisations that joined with us last year 'Working Together' to confirm that awareness is ongoing and in many instances gaining requests for more warning labels etc.
So far we have 14 Councils, 7 National Contractors, 3 Manufacturers, 1 Trust working with us and in the last week another 800 warning triangles and awareness information has been sent out to be implemented nationwide.
You can find out more about our Working Together here> Working Together Strimmer Awareness
We have also now added a 'Voices For' page from the main page where you can read supporting statements by naturalists, garden professionals & writers and rescues.
Team4Nature and Help for Hedgehog Hospitals.
It is often presumed that the hedgehog rescues and hospitals around the country receive national support in terms of funding, raising awareness of their projects and raising their profile. This is actually not the case. There are many different rescues around the country from the very small to those admitting and treating many hundreds of hedgehogs every year. Most of these rescues also work very hard in their communities to raise awareness through social media, attending events, gaining press coverage, by visiting schools and groups and some by running specific projects. Often this work can go almost unnoticed on the wider scale but these are the people making a real difference on the front line in your community for hedgehogs.
Team4Nature is running a #HelpHedgehogHospitals campaign and tweetstorm on the 11th April to recognise and help to raise the profile of these organisations small or large. So please add your voice and support and help those that work so hard in your communities (some also Nationally) to make a difference. There are many ways to help your community organisations including financially, volunteering some time, taking part in locally ran projects and awareness, following and supporting them on social media.
We are also proud to support Team4Nature and their ethos of building local communities with many individuals coming together making small changes to achieve a massive positive change for nature and all of us. You can follow Team4Nature on Twitter @Team4Nature300
Spirit of Bromsgrove Awards
Lastly for this update- we have been nominated and selected as one of the three organisations for The Spirit of Bromsgrove Outstanding Community Organisation award.
We would like to sincerely thank those who nominated us to be considered for this award and for the selection to be in the final three at the awards evening. Your support is appreciated and while awards are not what we strive for (our reward is rather releasing healthy hedgehogs, helping to make change and connect people with wildlife), the recognition and appreciation of our work is very much appreciated.
Charlie April 2016
Incubator, Events, Access for Hedgehogs
The first news is the purchase of a third incubator for the rescue, a very important piece of equipment for us in the rehabilitation of seriously ill hedgehogs and the raising of hoglets.
'We are always amazed at the kindness of individuals and indeed in this case humbled by the generosity and circumstances of this donation'.
The story behind this is very hard to put into words...
Lucie Anna Southall loved hedgehogs. When her family were carrying out work in the garden they found much to Lucies delight that a hedgehog had chosen to make their garden its home. As they were clearing parts of the garden Lucie demanded of her dad Wayne that he made a hedgehog home for their prickly resident- which he did. So Lucies love of hedgehogs began.
Sadly she was not allowed the time to experience this love of hedgehogs for very long as in 2013 Lucie was diagnosed with leukemia and she died shortly after on the 28th of August 2013 aged only 12 years old.
Lucies parents, Wayne and Michelle contacted us to tell of Lucies love of hedgehogs and informing us that they and the Lucie Southall Charity wished to support us in memory of Lucie and her love of hedgehogs with a fund-raising fayre.
Earlier this month we felt privileged to attended the event with our awareness displays and humbled to meet Lucies parents and relatives and we thank them for their interest in our work and for inviting us to the event and to be the recipients of donations/sales on the day. Needless to say it was a great and at times very emotional day.
The result was that the Lucie Southall charity raised an amount that allowed us to purchase an incubator of a size that will be used to sustain life for very small orphaned hoglets. We chose to use the money in this way as it will be called the Lucie Southall Incubator and it will in her memory give life to many litters of hoglets.
We cannot express our thanks enough to Wayne and Michelle and all those that gave their time and donated the proceeds to allow us to purchase this piece of equipment.
I am going to keep the remaining news updates brief for this month,
We are now into the main months of fund-raising and awareness events which will see us at many events around the county, so please keep an eye on the Events page and if you can come along and support us.
This last weekend we attended the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Knapp and Papermill Open Day, the first of a number of events we hope to be attending with the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.
We had a number of very positive discussions on the day with various Worcestershire Wildlife Trust staff and are looking at a number of ways of working together to bring information on hedgehogs, their plight and what can be done to the publics attention.
Access for Hedgehogs
We are now able to announce that in conjunction with us a fencing manufacture has produced hedgehog friendly gravel boards for sale to the general public, gardening firms, construction companies etc.
We know that hedgehogs will find a gap in a fence and use it to access a garden from the many reports to us of 'we have no idea how the hedgehog got in here!'. Also from the many people we have suggested to that they make a 4 to 5" gap to allow hedgehogs access and hey presto hedgehogs start visiting.
To prove the point in the photograph on the left is an access hole made by one of our followers in an existing fence panel..allowing hedgehogs to access the garden.
There are two products to choose from to simply replace one gravel board allowing ground moving animals such as hedgehogs and frogs and toads to move between gardens. Many thanks to Wilfurrs for supporting us with this project and for a donation of £1 to Willows Hedgehog Rescue for every panel sold.
You can catch up with some of the stories of hedgehogs admitted here at Willows Hedgehog Rescue in April on the New Admissions page.
So what happens now.....?
The most often asked question when admitting a hedgehog to the hospital. Quite often this is followed by..
'do you just give them food and water and keep them warm?'.
Well the answer is 'yes and no'. Yes they will be kept safe and warm and fed and watered but it is a little more complicated than that, the word hospital is the clue.
On admission the hedgehog gets two sets of paperwork that are it's records all the way from admission to hopefully release.
The first is the admission form. This details the finders details, the circumstances of finding the casualty and the patients admission number. This is a unique number that identifies that hedgehog for its admission, pen, treatment and general care throughout the whole of its stay with us.
This sheet also holds the detail of the initial examination findings and finally the release details or sometimes the circumstances of death be it put to sleep or circumstance of death while in our care (some hedgehogs sadly do come in too late for treatment to have a quick enough effect).
The next step is a full examination of the animal
The admission is weighed and sexed and these details recorded on the admission paperwork and the meds/care paperwork.
The information from the finder on the circumstances of finding are used in conjunction with a full examination to determine the nature of the issue.
Sometimes this will be obvious sometimes as with internal parasite issues it will take a couple of days to get identification under the microscope.
All admissions are checked irrespective of specific injury etc for hydration level, weight issues, external parasites, eye condition/response, dental condition, CRT, hearing response, skin/spine condition, limb motability, breathing (any wheezes etc). All admissions are also checked for internal parasite conditions even if this is not the main reason for admission. All external parasites will be removed on initial examination such as tics.
Approximate age from looking at pigment, teeth, colouration and other factors will be made and this will be used alongside the examination findings to determine the ethics of treatment. We have to look seriously at the issues resulting in admission against the length/stress of treatment and rehabilitation also taking into account the chances of recovery, level of recovery possible against the age and condition of the animal to make an ethical decision as to the validity of treatment.
At this point treatment will be begin straight away if the condition is identified. Any injuries will be cleaned and appropriate medication commence. Any that need vet examination or x-ray or possibly operations will be made comfortable with medication and either emergency vet cover called for or they will be booked in for the next day. Any admitted with internal parasite issues will be made comfortable and samples examined under the microscope as soon as samples are available (normally the next day). Most casualties will need some kind of fluid therapy which will start straight away.
Depending on the cause of admission and the results of examination the animal will then be homed in either one of the incubators for severe intensive care casualties, heated pens for poorly/injured ones or normal pens if ICU or heat is not required for the condition/state of admission.
My new address is....
The pen details are now detailed on their admission and treatment paperwork, prognosis and treatment are recorded and the patient admission number is transferred to their pen along with identification of 'on meds' or 'IC' intensive care, 'ISO' isolation etc.
During their stay their pen may change for example: they no longer need heat or juveniles growing need a bigger pen.
So that is a glimpse of the basics of the admission process and as you can see it isn't just a case of some warmth and providing some food and water. Once an animal comes under our care we have a duty of care upon us to ensure that the welfare of that animal is met and that all treatment needed is given and that duty stays with us right up to the point the animal is released where they duty of care still applies to ensure that we do not release the animal into known danger or at a disadvantage due to condition etc.
Finally some recent admissions.
Now hedgehogs are coming out of hibernation the admission have started and these are four of the recent admissions.
This hedgehog came in after being spotted being carried around in a dogs mouth. The finders brought it in and on examination it had suffered a number of bite wounds needing cleaning and anti-biotic medication.
Please always bring hedgehogs in that have been picked up by dogs even if they look ok. Bite wounds get infected very quickly and you may not see them their only being apparent on full examination.
This female hedgehog has been admitted suffering from a very advanced case of ringworm. She has lost most of the spines on her right side and the snout is very swollen. The eyes are also affected with as can be seen in this photograph the left eye closed with a discharge from it.
RIngworm is zoonotic and highly contagious so this hedgehog is in isolation and everything has to be cleaned down after she is cleaned, examined and treated each day.
No issues have been found so far and after another couple of days monitoring this hedgehog should be off back into the wild.
Please check humane traps at least once a day if not twice.
She weighed in at only 500grams and is severely underweight and dehydrated. She presented in a totally collapsed state.
She is in intensive care and is receiving fluid treatment and at the moment we are simply trying to stabilise her condition until we can find the cause and commence treatment.
They contacted us and she is now in intensive care. She is totally collapsed and has tested positive for lungworm. She is on fluid support and warmth and has started lungworm treatment which can be quite harsh at the best of times.
She has been named April.
Myrrh here came in earlier in 2014 in a very sorry state. His back leg was hanging off and very badly infected. Most of the spines and soft tissue had also been strimmed off the top of his head. 3 visits to the vets and after the final visit Myrrh really started to battle and respond to treatment.
Myrrh is now around 700grams and is managing well on three legs and just needs to grow some spines back.
Chip recently came in after suffering ahead trauma. Weighing in at just over 300grams he was in a bad way and was sneezing blood. After a while of treatment and intensive care Chip has just tipped the 600gram mark and has made a good recovery. He is at the moment being treated for lungworm which he has tested positive for in the last week
Chip is not a very patient, patient at all & doesn't like taking his meds!
He is very hyperactive and on kindly producing a 'sample' for us proved under the microscope to be riddled with lungworm, in fact several slides worth under normal circumstances in one slide sample!
Announcements & Plans
Yesterday saw a bit of a flurry of activity here at Willows Hedgehog Rescue and via social media announcements of some of the plans for us for the coming year. Now it is time to make some of the plans public on the website.
Becoming a Registered Charity.
When starting out five years ago little did we know how all consuming the rescue and education would become yet alone foreseeing that we would get to the size where we would need to become registered as a charity.
However we are at that point and yesterday we confirmed our third trustee. Our accounts should be finished in the next week or so and then our Registered Charity status application will be made. This is going to mean changes for us, not least more paperwork but it will allow us to work on larger scale initiatives to help hedgehogs (and wildlife) and to scale up the education we deliver to the community.
One of today's jobs is for me to review our charter and mission statement.
Expanding the Hospital.
When we started out we had been working alongside another rescue as foster carers and once we were happy we opened as a small rescue. I think at the time we had two double rabbit hutches and four of the large rigid plastic pet carriers (which make ideal hog accommodation) and we fashioned an examination table out of materials we had around the house.
Of course things soon started to expand and over a period we added more accommodation until we finally ran out of room. At this point we expanded the hospital area, made improvements and brought in industrial racking to house the hedgehog pens.
It wasn't that long until this became too small an area and we expanded the hospital area once again with more accommodation, more racks, purpose built examination and food prep areas with storage. We also added another incubator, more heated pens, upgraded the microscope, examination lamp the list goes on.
The plan for this year is to build an external large insulated & secure shed which will be furnished out with racking and pens for overwintering hedgehogs and for those during the year that are close to release but no longer need the immediate facilities of the main hospital area.
The new structure will also be dual purpose in allowing for storage of food and supplies for the hedgehogs something which at present fills what should be our dining room and hall. We order multiple sacks of food at a time, tins by the hundreds and to be totally honest it would be nice to be able to see the floor in the house sometimes!
We are also planning to go for funding for at least one new incubator which will be permanently installed at our senior hoglet nannies home (but will also be available to come back to the main hospital in emergencies) and possibly for a third permanent incubator for the hospital area. Last year saw a massive rise in the number of hoglet orphans and the intensive care units are literally lifesavers.
As part of the upgrades and expansion we also intend to remove the outdoor runs and build concrete based runs with more substantially built housing that will be easier to access and clean.
We always try to work to high standard and we have made many improvements over the years to the facility but we have to keep improving and expanding as the rescue grows in order to provide the best care we can, to meet the demand on the unit and to make it as practical a working environment as possible for us..
Access for Hedgehogs.
We started our Access for Hedgehogs campaign last year liaising with a number of builders and bringing to the public attention the issues hedgehogs have with access to gardens when solid gravel boards are installed under fencing. This went well with a number of builders in the county coming on board with providing access. We will be continuing the campaign; following up with builders already on board, contacting new developers, and ensuring that we gain publicity and awareness for the situation.
The latest news is that we are now in discussions and waiting for a sample from a fencing manufacturer that has agreed and is keen on manufacturing a hedgehog friendly fencing baseboard based on one of their existing boards. Our intention is to try to get the contractors we are already working with to adopt this board and possibly to retail the board ourselves to individuals (any profits going to rescue and projects). More news as it happens on this one, but it is an advancement that we are quite excited about.
Last years was a great success and it was wonderful to see how happy the children (and staff) at the winning school were to have been selected and to have won lots of wildlife related items and planting.
In addition we are having a big publicity and information push on making gardens suitable for wildlife. We will be using the website, social media and press to try to get people to consider wildlife in their gardens.
Each month there will be a project or tips for things to do or look out for the garden.
I kicked this off in the previous news entry so I am only going to cover this in brief here.
There are other projects in the pipeline but for now these are the important updates that I want to share. We are very grateful for peoples support with our work and we hope that you will continue to support us in what is going to be a busy year.
If you prefer audio to reading then audio podcast about the updates
and a question about amputee hedgehogs answered in our latest video
OK...just one more thing!
The Peoples Trust for Enangered Species and Hedgehog Society are running their annual Hibernation Survey. They want to know if you see a hedgehog up and about so they can see patterns in hedgehog behaviour and the effect of climate.
"A study was conducted 40 years ago which suggested a link between climate and when hedgehogs come out of hibernation. We repeated this study in 2012 and 2013, with phenomenal support from the public. In total aver 6,000 people have contributed to the survey, submitting over 90,000 hedgehog sightings!"
So please if you see a hedgehog then let them know here Hibernation Survey
2014 & Making a Space for Nature
A lot of wildlife has come to rely on our gardens as home, foraging ground and refuge and this includes our native European Hedgehog where now it would seem the majority of the population lives. This sounds wonderful but the hedgehog population is in crisis with drastic population declines over the last few decades and it is continuing to fall.
The issues in the countryside are a topic on their own but our suburbs, towns and cities landscape have also changed and not in favour of the hedgehog or wildlife. Many larger properties with long rambling gardens have been snapped up and redeveloped into housing estates. There has been a move to slab, deck and gravel gardens to extend the living area into the garden. Many ornamental plants have no wildlife benefit, hedges have become unpopular replaced by 'low maintenance' fencing. Chemicals are the gardeners weapon against any pesky insects and any native plant 'weed' is immediatly pounced upon with chemicals or garden fork.
Some of the issues.
Gravel Boards. Most new housing developments result in smaller gardens which in itself isn't the main issue, the issue is (especially for hedgehogs) that the gardens are separated by impenetrable gravel boards. A great idea to stop the bottom of the wooden fence panels from rotting but a major problem to ground dwelling species such as the hedgehog as it cannot get into the gardens.
Loss of Hedges. The humble hedge has become rather unpopular.replaced by the 'low maintenance fence'. In truth I don't think wooden fences are that low maintenance and they certainly won't last as long as a hedge but more importantly a hedge provides home and foraging for a lot of wildlife from insects, to birds, to the hedgehog.
Regimented Gardening. Planning the perfect garden seems to be a bit of an obsession. Colour coordinating the plants, putting the pants in the most aesthetic spot, demarcating planting 'islands' amidst seas of gravel or fancy paving and then consequently waging a constant battle on nature incase something 'unplanned' rears its head through the pea gravel. Chemicals keep those pesky insects and slugs at bay (if the flowers even attract insects which a lot of 'cultivated' ornamental plants don't) denying food for wildlife and in the case of slug pellets poisoning hedgehogs.
Now we all have our own ideas of how a garden should look and I am not suggesting that everyone should just abandon everything and let the garden grow into a jungle. There is a happy medium
Kids, Adults (& hedgehogs).
Just one other thing before we look at some simple ways to benefit wildlife in the garden including the hedgehog. I visit lots of schools talking about wildlife and hedgehogs in particular and....Kids LOVE hedgehogs! I don't take live hedgehogs in but they get to see lots of photographs and videos of hedgehogs. They awww and giggle and eyes light up when they see a video of hoglets. We all try to make our kids happy right? Well the knowledge that a hedgehog is visiting or maybe even living in the garden is guaranteed to make eyes sparkly. I also talk to children about the decline in hedgehog numbers and ask them how they feel. The answers are always the same, 'sad, upset'. Oh and by the way, adults when they come and talk to us at awareness events always tell us how sad they feel that they haven't seen a hedgehog in years.
So lets make everyone happy including the hedgehog!
Simple things we can do.
Garden Access. All it takes is a 4 to 5" square hole in a gravel board or fence (you can also now get a hedgehog friendly replacement for a gravel board) to allow a hedgehog to get into the garden. That's it. The dog isn't getting through that gap, the cat goes over the top of the fence but its just right for a hedgehog to get through. A hedgehog will travel through around ten or twelve gardens in a night so we really need to get gardens linked. If you start in your garden that is the first step but if you can get some of the neighbours to put the gaps in as well then this creates hedgehog corridors helping them move around gardens to find food and nest sites and it keeps them away from the danger of the road.
We have been working very hard with building developers to get them to consider hedgehog/wildlife access routes in new builds and I am happy to say that a number of developers are now starting to do this.. but we need more and we will be continuing with this campaign.
Wild Patches. OK we aren't trying to create a jungle here (unless you want one). All we are trying to do is find a balance between human wants and wildlife needs. That is also an important point. We want a garden a certain way, wildlife needs certain habitat otherwise it dies out. Hedgehogs are a prime example, they are declining rapidly. Remember those kids reactions to hedgehogs? Well I don't want to be the one to tell them, 'you will never see a hedgehog, they are all gone'. The garden can still be 'designed' but with a space incorporated into that design for wildlife.
Simple things to do in the garden to create wildlife habitat.
Let an area grow wild. Select an area (maybe at the top of the garden where you have put that gap in the fence) and let the grass grow, let native flowers and yes 'weeds' grow. This provides great habitat for insects, invertebrates and ground dwelling mammals such as the hedgehog. We often plant butterfly beneficial plants but the larval stage needs vegetation such as clover, nettles, thistles, grass. Without the habitat no larva, without the larva no butterflies.
Sow some wildflowers. There are a number of companies now that sell seed mixes and seed 'bombs' that contain a wide variety of native wild flowers. Select an area and try one of these out. I find it far more exciting to go out and discover an unexpected riot of colour from a native wildflower mix than knowing exactly what is going to grow and where because I hand picked and planted it. Nature is fabulous and has spent a lot longer than us developing these plants!
Plant some shrubs (a mini hedge!). Cover is important for wildlife and shrub cover provides damp, dark areas for insects, a refuge and food opportunities for birds and home and foraging for the hedgehog. Shrubs and hedges also provide safe corridors for wildlife. Bats even use hedges as motorways- following them on their nightly routes as we would a road. Speaking of bats... bats such as the common pipistrelle- a bat which has adopted the urban environment feeds on all the small insects you find clustered around ponds, compost heaps and in swirling insect clouds above hedges. If you are lucky and attract bats they will visit nightly with their aerial acrobatics, swooping down for small insects.
Again along one of those fences (maybe the new wild area you have at the top of the garden next to the new hedgehog friendly gap in the fence) plant some native shrubs.
Front gardens seem to have become flat boring open grass areas, a sort of no mans (and certainly not wildlifes) land, so why not plant some shrubs along the boarders. Creating a hedge can be quite expensive but start with a couple of shrubs. We planted around 17 Holly bushes along our front garden which could have been pretty expensive at £15 a shrub from the nursery, an amount of money we hadn't got. But, we visited the 'bargain corner', the space tucked away in the nursery where sorry looking plants and shrubs go to die. We payed around £3 per Holly bush from this corner and every one of them is now a thick healthy bush.
While touching on flat open no mans land you could add your voice for wildlife and ask your local council to consider letting some verges grow wild (important wildlife corridors), and also ask them to leave some of the grass in parks to grow along with the wild flowers- not every inch of grass needs to be mown to look like a bowling green.
Have a log pile, compost heap. This one is simple and free. Simply stack and let a load of cuttings, logs, leaves slowly decay. Hedgehogs and toads may well make their home in there, you get lots of mosses, lichens and fungi on there (fascinating in their own right to see), damp dark areas underneath all attract insects and providing food for invertebrates, birds and hedgehogs.
Avoid garden dangers. Poisons and chemicals aren't good for our wildlife. Slug pellets poisen and kill hedgehogs. So please look for alternatives instead of using a chemical. Nature always has the solution! Slugs can be a pest, but frogs and toads eat slugs.. natural 'pest' control. We can encourage frogs and toads into the garden by providing suitable habitat. You can have a pond even a small one, but compost heaps and log piles provide habitat as well.
If you have a vegetable plot in the garden make sure that any netting is kept taught and off the ground. Hedgehogs get tangled in loose netting very easily and often sustain injuries or could even die if not noticed. Also that battle with wildlife for our veg, well maybe protect what we want and then plant a little extra for wildlife. Why fight when you can compromise?
Ponds are great for providing habitat for invertebrates and insects and a drink for mammals such as the hedgehog. But please always make sure that there is one shallow slope so if a hedgehog falls in it can get out again.
Man made homes & feeders. Even if we have the perfect garden there will be times when natural food isn't abundant and in smaller gardens maybe there isn't as much habitat as wildlife needs- fairly impractical to have large mature trees in a small garden. So we can provide nesting opportunities and some food. Bird boxes, Bat boxes, Insect Hotels, Hedgehogs homes can all be purchased or made. There are lots of different feeders and food products on the market. With a little elbow grease most can be made at home at little cost and as long as the house is watertight, not draughty and is about the right comfy size a hedgehog doesn't care if it cost £60 from a garden centre or is made from some wood you had lying around the shed. Bird feeders can cost lots of money, £1 from the pound shop or can be made out of things like empty pop bottles- again it only us that cares about the cost/appearance not the birds! Just remember to keep them clean. Water can be left out in something like a crock plant saucer.
We often applaud large organisations that carry out conservation work, or decry plans that result in the loss of green belt etc. We may feel powerless to affect policy which has a detrimental effect on our countryside and wildlife, but.... everyone who has a garden is a landowner and with a little thought can make changes that bring benefits to wildlife. It doesn't matter if you have a hankerchief sized garden or three acres, because pennies make pounds and lots of wildlife gardens when added together can make a real positive impact for our native wildlife.
This isn't intended to be an exhaustive guide to creating a wildlife friendly garden, just a start- food for thought.
There are lots of useful rescources on the internet and these are just a few handy starter links including information on gardening for; frogs, toads, bats, birds, insects & hedgehogs. Also some links to wildflower mix suppliers, wildlife food and home suppliers & Wildlife Gadgetman projects in the garden!
Spikes World, Ark Wildlife, Bill Oddie's Birdfood and Meadow in my Garden have all supported us with our Schools Wildlife Garden Willows Wildlife Corner project so good to support companies that support wildlife endevours.
2013 Round Up
2013 turned out to be quite a mixed year.
2012 was a very wet year, followed by a prolonged winter with a delayed spring in 2013. The first hoglet orphans didn't materialise when we would have expected them to and then all of a sudden the hoglet litters started pouring in. Far more than we have seen in previous years & they just kept on coming in. 2013 saw two new hoglet nannies start with us and on days when both Jayne and I were in work at our full time jobs multiple hoglet drop offs to our three hoglet nannies had to take place each morning.
The litters continued throughout the year and even in late autumn very small hoglets were still being admitted.
The year also started with a lot of hedgehogs suffering from garden injuries, stimmer lacerations, fractures and puncture wounds from spades and garden forks. So please in 2014 be aware of hedgehogs when spring arrives and thoughts turn to gardening.
The winter of 2013 saw very small hedgehogs coming in, a lot smaller than would normally be seen and rescues were admitting hoglets in December. Nature truly out of whack! Numbers (even though still admitting right through Christmas) seem to be down over the winter on previous years and this is concerning.
In 2013 we ramped up our awareness work and throughout the year we managed to keep the plight of hedgehogs in the local and regional newspapers almost weekly and indeed managed to get a piece nationally into The Times & onto the CBBC Newsround site (and onto the TV). 2013 was also the year of the BBC Summer of Wildlife and we were pleased to be able to bring hedgehog awareness as a BBC partner at the BBC Summer of Wildlife event in Birmingham. We attended a large number of events throughout the year ending with the Christmas Fayre at Rush Farm, an ethical farm we hope to be working a lot with in the future.
Just a little of our hedgehog media exposure in 2013....
Education and getting children interested in the natural world is very important to us and the year saw many school education visits and the launch of our Willows Schools Wildlife Garden Competition.This year we also had our first Scouts group invite which although we had visited many Rainbows and Brownies groups we had not previously been invited by the lads organisations!
We gained the support of a number of organisations and were able to provide the 2013 winning school with a lot of goodies, including runner up prizes for two other schools. The competition will be running again this year. I would like to thank the schools that took part and to thank all the schools we visited (including a good number of repeat visits to schools). School bookings for 2014 are now being taken and indeed I will be visiting some schools for the third or fourth time now which is really pleasing.
Last year we really pushed social media alongside the website and the Facebook page and Twitter streams took off, Facebook now with over 600 likes and Twitter with over 1100 followers.
We are grateful for peoples interest and for helping us to spread the message about hedgehogs and wildlife. I neglected the website a little during the year but worked on promoting awareness through video and through illustrations which seems to have gone down pretty well with a lot of interest being shown in both.
We also via the kind sponsorship of Lush vamped up our events awareness stand with a large new sign written stand, events tables & donated display boards to replace our old falling apart gazibo and display boards. Three refurbished laptops also brought videos and photo/information slide shows to the events setup which have proved to be popular with people visiting the stand. One of our aims is to use many different types of media to be inclusive of everyone and individual preferences for gaining information.
Support & Volunteers
The support from the public has been fantastic in 2013 and we would both like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for thier support. Without public support we would not be able to carry on with the rescue and education. Support comes in many forms from purchasing items from us, to item/money donations, volunteering time, those that hand craft items for us to raise funds, to spreading the word about hedgehogs. We really appreciate all of the support we receive.
We would also like to thank our hoglet nannies and foster carers for their support over the last year. A very hectic year for our hoglet nannies. Some of our foster carers have not got hedgehogs to overwinter this year. That is due to the winter arrivals coming in very late with many still on treatment and in part to less hedgehogs in this winter (which as I intimated earlier is a concern- although summer numbers were up and especially hoglets).
2013 also saw the launch of our Access for Hedgehogs campaign which has resulted in a number of building developers now including access for hedgehogs in any new build developments. We have to thank Bovis Homes one of the first to come on board with this project, not only for providing access for hedgehogs but for going that bit further and putting in hedgehog homes into new builds.
So what about 2014?
We will of course be aiming to continue to carry on and expand our rescue, awareness and education work and we will be running the schools wildlife garden competition again. I also aim to build on the childrens/education pages on the website started in 2013.
We will hopefully be working alongside other organisations to expand education and there are a couple of exciting media projects underway. We are also finalising accounts to become a registered charity and we will be looking at funding to better equip rescue wise and to expand education projects.
Of course we can't do any of this without your support and we hope that you will continue to help us to help hedgehogs and promote interest in the natural world. For just two ordinary people with full time jobs on top of running Willows Hedgehog Rescue I think Jayne and I achieved quite a lot in 2013 and I have no doubt that 2014 will be just as busy, just as tiring and fraught at times. I hope you will support us in our endevours in 2014.
Finally.. Natural world in trouble
Wildlife is in trouble, modern human population & material pressures compounded by a government that seemingly is bent on ignoring any science or compassion for wildlife as beings that have as much right to be on this planet as us- resulting in situations such as the ill conceived badger cull pilots in 2013 to those wanting the fox hunting ban lifted.
Wildlife and our environment needs everyone to embrace it. That can be from something as simple as gardening for wildlife to volunteering with a wildlife organisation. So please make 2014 the year you start to do something for wildlife and our natural world. Some of the things we can all do are:
Garden for wildlife, Purchase ethical produce/products, Support local produce/businesses, Know where your food/products come from & how they were produced (be aware), Waste less, Spend more time outdoors, Get the kids outdoors more, Join a wildlife organisation, Volunteer with a wildlife organisation, Make your voice heard on 'green' issues.
You loose your phone, you can replace it... we loose species, ecosystems, we can't replace them. Wildlife rescue is very worthwhile but as I have said many times it is a sticking plaster, everyone needs to respect, consider, protect and enjoy wildlife for there to be a future.
Happy New Year to all.
It is a simple message from us.
We want everyone to have a great bonfire night. We don't want to see bonfires and firework displays cancelled due to wildlife concerns, but we do want everyone who is having a bonfire to consider wildlife.
A bonfire looks like the perfect home for lots of wildlife including our native European Hedgehog. It resembles a nice thick hedge with cosy places to make a nest inside safe from predators, sheltered from the weather and at a time when hedgehogs will be looking for secure places to get ready to hibernate over the winter.
There are a few simple things you can do...
- Collect the materials for the bonfire in one place and then move them and rebuild the bonfire on the night of the bonfire before lighting.
- put a ring of sand around the bonfire and keep an eye out for any animal tracks leading to and fron the bonfire.
- put a wire mesh temporary fence around the bonfire.. e.g. some chicken wire steaked down and at least a foot high, sloping outwards from the base (hedgehogs can climb).
- On the night of the bonfire use something like a broom handle to lift the bonfire working alll the way around, looking under with bright torches.
If you do find a hedgehog under the bonfire when checking put it into a high sided box somewhere quiet in the house and leave it alone then; either call a rescue centre for advice or just keep it in the box until the bonfire is out and then release it. Don't just move it somewhere else as it may well just make its way back to the bonfire.
If you find a burned hedgehog...
- Immediately secure the hedgehog (do not put your own safety at risk).
- Soak a towel with cold water, wring the towel out and use to cover/wrap the hedgehog to help dissipate the heat and prevent further blistering. (most of the burn damage to soft tissue etc occurs after the actual incident).
- Put the hedgehog in a high sided box somewhere dark and quiet.
- Call a hedgehog rescue centre / wildlife hospital straight away.
Even if the hedgehog doesn't seem to have burns but was spotted after the bonfire is alight please get it to a rescue it will need treatment and observation. Smoke inhalation is as big a killer as burns, also skin blistering may occur several days after exposure.
We hope everyone has a fun filled bonfire night and just following the above goes a long way to making it a wildlife friendly one as well.
Dan came to us here at Willows Hedgehog Rescue just over four years ago. He was found out in daylight and on examination proved to have pneumonia and as a double whammy he was blind with one eye long gone and the other unseeing. He was already an older hedgehog of at least four years from the various signs we use to determine age in an adult hedgehog, one of which on its own isn't an idicator but multiple indicators together give us a good idea. Pigment loss on the nose and paws, condition of the teeth including wear, size/thickness of the ears, colour of the spines and more besides. It isn't an exact science but it can give us a reasonable idea of age.
Dan slowly responded to his treatment but he was left with some scarring on the lungs which left him with permanently noisy breathing, otherwise he become stonger and healthier. Dan couldn't be released back into the wild and so he became a resident in our rescue secure garden with the whole garden to himself and he has always been left to be wild. He found his own routes around the garden, moving at a fast pace for a blind hedgehog (you would think he is sighted as he navigates his routes without mishap only on the odd occasion if we have moved something bumping into it but soon avoiding it). He has his favourite hedgehog home, collects nesting material for it and moves his home around the garden in summer as a hedgehog out in the wild would do but on a larger scale. Of course we often see Dan during the day which is the reason he couldn't go back into the wild, Dan, unseeing as he is can't tell day from night.
Dan often goes down into hibernation early and this year was no exception we hadn't seen him for a couple of weeks and a quick check of his nest had found him fast asleep in a tight ball. This morning I went outside to check the outdoor hedgehog runs when I was shocked to see a very light coloured adult hedgehog in the middle of the lawn rooting for worms. I was taken aback- this hedgehogs colouring was so light, the spines light Ochres & Fauns. For a moment I wondered who this hedgehog was and how it had gained access to the garden until a closer check revealed to me that it was Dan.
Dan's colour has totally changed, his spines most still dark had over the four years changed to a more ginger colour but now in the morning light he looked totally different.
Dan is at least eight or nine years old a grand age for a hedgehog, a veritable veteran but time would seem now to be catching up with him.
Every winter when he hibernates we wait anxiously for him to come out of hibernation and the first sight of him in spring always bring an ecstatic feeling. This winter is not going to be any different, but the reminder this morning of Dans veteran years shocked and brought a feeling of sad helplessness to me. Dan although left to be totally wild and undisturbed apart from the occasional health check up is a part of this home and although it is the natural course of nature it will be a very dark day when his snufflings and slightly wheezy breathing are no longer a part of our world.
Helping hedgehogs in Autumn
It only seems to be five minutes ago when we were wondering when the first spring hoglets would start to come in and now suddenly we are awaiting the influx of autumn juveniles with October already here.
Autumn & early winter right through until late December will see many younger, smaller hedgehogs struggling to gain enough weight to survive the winter. Many of these hedgehogs will also contract lungworm over this period from eating one of the few natural food sources available- slugs. Lungworm if not treated leads to pneumonia and eventually death.
On the matter of slugs..
There have been a couple of television programs of late (sadly BBC) and indeed information on the BBC website which have identified hedgehogs as "slug eaters". To put the record straight a tiny percentage of a hedgehogs diet consists of slugs and snails. Beetles, caterpillars and earthworms are top of the menu, slugs at the bottom, often only eaten when there isn't anything else around. Misinformation such as hedgehogs being slug eaters is frankly counterproductive as then the public take this on board and next all we and other rescues hear is "oh yes, our garden in great for hedgehogs... it's full of slugs".
We are asked how to get rid of slugs and I don't think that there is an easy answer and please never use slug poisen as this also kills the hedgehogs. The easy way to deter hedgehogs from eating slugs is to offer something else. Leaving food out each night for visiting hedgehogs reduces the temptation for them to opt for slugs.
You can buy specific hedgehog food (if you have the funds) or you can leave out dry cat or dog food in meaty flavours and in small or medium breed bite size. We would supplement this with a mix of unsalted crushed peanut nibs, sunflower hearts, sultanas and pet suet pieces at around 90% of the dry food and 10% of this mix. You can keep all of this safe from cats and weather by using an old large storage tub (the plastic type you might store toys in etc), remove the lid, upturn it and cut a 4" square entrance hole on one of the shorter ends, smooth it off and pop the food under this with a brick or planter on top of the tub to anchor it down. Water can be left out in crock plant saucers around the garden, (hedgehogs tend to flip the plastic ones over).
Making a home.
Autumn is the time when most of us will think about giving the garden a bit of a tidy before winter sets in, the trick is to not make it too tidy! Please leave some log, cuttings and leaf piles as these provide habitat for wildlife including hedgehogs. With the loss of hedges around gardens putting in a hedgehog home gives a safe hibernation choice for a hedgehog.
You can purchase hedgehog homes from garden centres or online, if you are handy with a saw you can make one (pop into a garden centre have a look at the pre-made ones and go from there) or you can offer a hedgehog a home for pennies.
Back to the good old plastic storage tub! Remove the lid and upturn it making the same 4" hole on one of the shorter ends. Inserting a small diameter piece of plastic tube through a hole just below the now top of the box will allow airflow and help to eliminate condensation. Don't use the lid as the top as leaving a plastic base to the home isn't ideal. Plastic is slippy and any water ingres or condensation in the home (even if a small hole is made in the base) will pool and make the home damp. Make sure that the entrance hole is smoothed off and then find a quiet ideally shrub covered, dry corner of the garden sheltered from direct sun or rain to site the box
To stop wind and rain getting into the "hedgehog home" use a few bricks to make an entrance tunnel with something like a piece of slate to make a roof over the brick tunnel. This also stops any unwanted inquisitive paws going into the home! The hedgehog home as it now is can be covered with earth, leaves, logs etc to make it look natural and to help give insulation. The final touch of a couple of handfuls of meadow hay as starter bedding means it is ready to go! A fun very cheep little project to do with the kids and one with a real wildlife benefit.
We have had a home made in exactly that way for about five years now and it does the job very well.
Please now we are into October keep an eye out for any smaller hedgehogs struggling to gain enough weight to hibernate in a few weeks time. Older literature has varying ideal weights for hibernation but now it is pretty much agreed that hedgehogs need to be over 750 grams to have a good chance of getting through hibernation. The reality is that even in December we will be admitting hedgehogs weighing less than 300grams. Hedgehogs that will die due to lack of food but that have to keep foraging as their own instinct tells them they would die if they tried to hibernate. So please leave food and water out for hedgehogs this will help them to put weight on and secondly keep an eye on them, if you see small hedgehogs as we advance into October please call your local rescue for help.
How big is my Hog?
To give an idea of weights below are a 200gram hedgehog, a 400gram and an 800gram hedgehog. (All photos against standard tennis ball for size ref).
200 & 300 gram hedgehogs need to go to a rescue now and will need over-wintering (phone your local rescue for advice). 400/450gram can still put on weight (early October) if you leave food out for them but keep an eye on them and when we start to get into mid October 400gram hogs will be too small to gain enough weight so seek help. 650grams and above will be fine unless they are out in daylight and then there are other issues and the hedgehog will need rescue anyway.
If you can please consider helping your local rescue out a little. Autumn and winter are an expensive time for rescue units and hospitals with many animals having to be kept through the winter with release only possible in spring. Fundraising opportunities are sparse in the winter with events when fundraising can be carried out mainly running over the summer months. A few tins of pet food or a small donation can make a real difference to wildlife units and hospitals as they all run on goodwill and charitable donations.
Of course it isn't all about money and offering some time can be a great help. Over the winter period foster carers are invaluable in taking some of the pressure off the rescue unit. Fostering involves overwintering a hedgehog until spring in something like a rabbit hutch in a quiet shed or garage once it is off treatment allowing the rescue centre to free pens for news admissions needing treatment and reducing food costs. Please contact your local rescue unit or wildlife hospital for more information.
Touching on other news.
After being invited to attend the BBC Summer of Wildlife event at Sutton Park NNR in early October which turned out to ge a great day with lots of interest we are now moving onto other projects, more details of which will be released in due course.
The Summer of Wildlife event (the last in the events for 2013) was a great opportunity to work alongside the BBC as one of its partners. The BBC staff were all very helpful and it was nice to meet up with old colleagues from the RSPB and Birmingham Ranger Service. The amount of interest in hedgehogs from the public on the day was fantastic and we would like to thank everyone for a great day.
We are going to be forging ahead with our Schools Garden Project winners over the coming weeks and we are also now in the early stages of involvement with a couple of other projects.
One is Wildlife Jack a show in the making aimed at getting smaller children into wildlife and we have been in talks with them about including the hedgehog as one of the species that Wildlife Jack meets in the series. Hopefully we will be doing some filming along with Jason of Wildlife Gadgetman in the near future.
Update - Sadly after making first contact with Wildlife Jack along with Jason and suggesting that hedgehogs were featured in the series, after initial talks, coming up with filming ideas & receiving filming brief and as far we we were concerned it was all systems go it would seem that the team without letting us know decided to go elsewhere.
Jason- Wildlife Gadgetman
Jason who is very interested in hedgehogs (as he is indeed in all wildlife) came down to join us at our invite on our BBC Summer of Wildlife stand earlier in September as well as to find out about the work we do with the hedgehog rescue. He spent a couple of days down with us and it was great to meet Jason who is a thoroughly nice chap with a love of nature and with great ideas and enthusiasm for ways to encourage and help wildlife in your garden. He has been focusing on hedgehogs on his site over the last month or so and we are hoping to work with Jason on future projects. You can find out more about how Jason found his visit in his website post.
I have also now spoken to Sebastian from Stockwood CBS and Rush Farm an ethical farm and business park near Redditch Worcestershire. A lot of the farms ethics are those which we hold dear and we will be visiting soon to look at ways that we can work together to promote environmental education, ecologically ethical farming and produce and local businesses.
Another initiative which we have signed up to is Project Wild Thing aiming to get kids reconnected with nature.
Our natural world is in trouble, yes there are positive stories but overall the simple fact is year by year we are slowly but surely eroding it away. Children need to be enthused and to engage with nature and that is down to the adults to take them out there and allow them the opportunity to engage with the natural world. We all need to think about our releationship with the natural world from how we garden to our purchasing ethics. It isn't up to the likes of the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, Wildlife Rescuers and other wildlife organisations to 'save' the world'. They simply can't- they can show the way, give ideas, run projects, raise awareness but it is up to everyone to get involved with ensuring the future of our wildlife and not to just freeze time stopping decline in specific areas, specific species but to change our attitude to the whole environment for the growth and expansion of the natural world.
Please have a look at these initiatives and support them. More information on our possible involvement with these projects will be announced as we know more.
Recent Media Exposure
The Telegraph has now also contacted us showing interest in the possibility of running a story about hedgehog rescues and hedgehog nannies. A Hong Kong based newspaper aimed at school children has also contacted us with regards to an article on hedgehogs.
We have also been working at getting our Access for Hedgehogs campaign into the media including the local press.
Badgers and Hedgehogs
Now I am not going to go into the Bager Cull here suffice to say that yes BTB is a serious issue which needs to be tackled but the approach and ethics of the Badger Cull are seriously and scientifically flawed and wrong in my opinion (you can read far more erudite accounts of this elsewhere on the internet), however it would seem that the latest attempt to try to give some justification is to pit the Badger against the Hedgehog and on this I will write.
Badgers yes are the one mammal that can and will unball and kill a hedgehog and yes where there are large badger populations you will often see an absence of hedgehogs. However they are NOT responsible for the decline of hedgehogs. Badgers and hedgehogs have co-existed for thousands of years yet the hedgehog population has plummeted over the last 60 years. And that should tell you something...
Hedgehog populations are in decline due to massive changes in countryside and farm management; the loss of tens of thousands of miles of hedgerow, (the clue is in the name) use of chemicals drastically reducing insects (hedgehogs are insectivores). Then we have increasing urbanisation, very tidy gardens, planting that has no insect benefit and that is even if they can get into the garden through solid concrete gravel boards.
There are many reasons for the hedgehogs decline and the truth is that one mammal has caused their decline and the mammal that is the cause is us, not badgers. With the massive drop in hedgehog populations yes badgers on a local basis can and do have an effect on the dwindling populations of hedgehogs but it is us that need to change how we view the natural world, how we manage our gardens, how we manage the countryside and farmland. The badger is not the easy fix and scapegoat for hedgehog decline!
So Many Updates
There has been rather a large gap on this page, however the website itself has not been short on updates, new information and projects. However it is probably time I took the time to write about some of these.
The last two months have been hectic to say the least with new admissions, a large number of hoglet litters, our Schools Wildlife Garden project & competition, championing Access for Hedgehogs in new developments and the addition of a video updates page and most recently an audio diary.
So one thing at a time.
This year has seen a massive increase in the number of hoglets coming in to us. We aren't sure if this is due to the poor spring and subsequent hot/dry spell, to better awareness in general of hedgehogs or more awareness within the area we cover of ourselves. In truth it is probably a mixture of all of them and what ever the causes it has meant that since the end of May / beginning of June we have been unindated with hoglets and from that point on have not had a break from two to three hourly hand feeds from 6am to midnight every day.
The latest litter arrived yesterday (11th August) with six hoglets being admitted all between 40 and 60 grams. The earliest litters to come in are now ready for release, we have more litters out with foster carers gaining the last bit of weight before release and we still have a number of litters in the hospital gaining weight before they can go to foster for final weight gains. We have to say a big thank you to Sue and Jo our hoglet nannies for all their hard work while we are at work and to all those that have donated replacement milk, puppy and high nutrient recovery food that is used to hand rear hoglets.
We have had a large number of adult hedgehogs in with injuries varying from dog attacks, gardening injuries, being stuck in netting, parasite burdens to falling in ponds. So in truth nothing new there but with the large number of hoglets the pressure has been on.
Willows Schools Wildlife Corner.
Rescue is one thing but we believe that to make a real difference to the decline of much of our wildlife we have to get everyone involved with the natural world. To this end we give lots of talks to groups and schools and attend events bringing awareness but this year we decided to go a step further.
We launched our Willows Schools Wildlife Corner and encouraged schools to enter a competition to win lots of goodies aimed at building or extending a wildlife garden in their school grounds. We had a good number of entries to win prizes including £200 worth of planting, hedgehog homes, bird boxes and feeders, wildlife food and more. Just before the end of term before the summer holidays we visited St Georges CE School in Redditch to tell them that they had won.
You can read all about Willows Wildlife Corner and the winning entry on our Schools Wildlife Garden page.
Access for Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are in decline for many reasons however one issue that hedgehogs face is that when new developments are built they often go in with solid concrete gravel boards totally surrounding the gardens. This as a result denies access to wildlife such as hedgehogs that have come to rely on the garden habitat for foraging and finding places to nest.
A hedgehog will travel around a mile and a quarter a night and these travels will be through a number of gardens, gardens which on new developments they simply cannot get into.
With this in mind we started contacting housing developers asking them to consider including the simple solution of a 4" gap in one gravel board per garden thus allowing hedgehogs access to all the gardens in a development. It is proving to be a hard slog with many developers not even wanting to speak to us, however Bovis Homes and Redrow have come on board in the Worcestershire area to provide much needed access for hedgehogs.
This is fantastic news and we thank both Bovis and Redrow for their forewards thinking, wildlife friendly attitudes. However we ideally need this to become standard practice for all developers and to this end we have started a government petition to try to get this built into planning regulations. You can support us in this by signing the petition and by writing to developers / planners / councils. More information on this is on our Access for Hedgehogs page.
Video and Audio
There are now a number of videos up on the website as well as a few audios. I have started to make the short videos to try to highlight some of the issues we see in the hospital where I feel that actually seeing something has more value than simply typing a few words with a photograph. The feedback so far has been very positive and it would seem that they are popular and are getting people interested in hedgehogs.
There are now also Podcasts and a new Audio Diary. The aim with the Podcasts are to again look at issues or events in greater detail than a typed post and the Audio Diary allows me to put across more information about projects and daily happeneings than can be covered in a typed update. This page will remain but will act as more of a monthly roundup.
You can find the Video and Audio on the Willows Thoughts page.
We attend a large number of events throughout the year providing awareness and also to fund raise to run the rescue unit. Our poor old basic gazibo finally gave up the ghost this year and we realised that we needed to get a purpose made events gazibo. Lush came to the rescue and funded a much larger sturdier sign written events gazibo for us. Along with donations of a number of second hand display boards and two computer notebooks. This now means that we have been able to expand our awareness and educational materials on the stand hopefully providing more of interest to visitors to the stand as well as engaging audiences with different types of media at shows, for example video. Hopefully all of this is going to help us reach more people in future.
You may or may not have noticed that there are now a number of cartoon illustrations dotted around the website. Hopefully these brighten up the site a little, but they also all have a message to tell and in truth they got me back into spending a little time illustrating, something I haven't taken the opportunity to do for a while. They do seem to have proveved to be popular.
Finally, I have finally got around to registering Willows as a domain name for the site and moving away from hotmail for our contact email address so the website is now www.willowshedgehogrescue.co.uk and our email address is now firstname.lastname@example.org
I am in the proccess of updating pages, moving things around on the site and consolidating some of the pages so please bear with us while I do this.
3rd June 2013
Releases, Problematic Admissions & Video.
It has been a very busy time over the last month, resulting as can be seen in a lack of updates in April (although you can follow daily small updates on Twitter & Facebook).
The frankly miserable start to this year (weatherwise) delayed the release of overwintered hedgehogs & with over eighty to release this has caused some real issues. I am glad to say that we have now finally managed to get all of the releasing completed getting the hedgehogs back out into the wild and leaving us with a lot of deep cleaning of pens in the rescue area. Sadly though the pens don't stay empty for long and we have started to get multiple new admissions a day.
Many of the new hedgehogs in under our care have come in with very serious issues and we have had a number where the injuries have been too great for treatment. A number have been the result of gardening, we have had a number of cases of strimmer injuries - something which can easily be avoided by checking the garden for a few minutes for hedgehogs and wildlife before carrying out any work. Ten minutes checking saves an animal such as a hedgehog from serious and often life threatening injury. We have also admitted a number of hedgehogs suffering from respiratory issues and from internal parasite burdens including lungworm.
It has been depressing at times over the last couple of weeks with a number of hedgehogs presenting with fractured jaws and fractured limbs with damage to the extent thay have had to be euthanised and one a hedgehog we released a month ago coming back in alive but with her skull crushed and having to be euthanised. We have also had one hedgehog die under anaesthetic while having surgery on major skin lacerations.
Today however there was one of those little moments of light that makes everything worthwhile. Mira is a hedgehog that presented with no visible injuries but with neurological issues. She could not walk or even balance upright- flipping over onto her back constantly. In this state they also cannot feed themselves and rely on hand feedind by us. She has been on treatment for a couple of weeks now and I am glad to say that she is starting to improve (you can see more about her on the new Audio & Video page). There have been slight inprovements over her treatment but this morning she was sat upright by her empty food bowl and there were also good signs that she is starting to gain some motorcontrol back over her limbs.
One of the recent releases was a hedgehog named Sebastian by his finder (an obvious reference to the recently released The Hobbit and the hedgehog in the film). This hedgehog was brought in in a state of total collapse suffering from respiratory issues. I was not that hopefull between the general condition of the hedgehog and the serious nature of the breathing issues. However I am glad to say that Sebastian responded very well to the treatment and was recently released a fighting fit hedgehog.
Popeye the hedgehog above came in in an awful state. He was collapsed, dehydrated, starving, had one eye hanging out and a yellowed bone protruding from where his one back leg should have been. He had an operation to remove the eye and stitch up the eye socket but needed to gain strength before the leg could be operated on. He started to loose weight and on examination we found that he also had a heavy lungworm burden. Treatment started and he has started to respond and we need to get him to gain a decent amount of weight before we can operate on the back leg. Judging by the protruding bone this is an old injury resulting in the loss of the leg and he had been wandering around basically walking on the stumpof bone. If ever a hedgehog has been through the wars and deserves a second chance it is this little chap.
Finally for this update (there is just no way I can cover even a fraction of the recent admissions or happenings), is something that you will probably not see again. The hedgehog above is known to have been visiting the same garden for 9 years, this makes this hedgehog an absolute veteran. Considering in the wild hedgehogs live for an average of 3 to 4 years and 1 in a thousand may live to 7 years, this chap is an absolute star. He came in after being found very wobbly and bubbling at the nose. He is being treated for an internal parasite burden and for his breathing issues. We are routing for him to recover and add more years to his great age.
Before ending there are two points that have to be made (even if I have made them many times before).
Please check for wildlife and hedgehogs before strimming and mowing the garden. Also check for nesting birds at this time of year before hedge cutting or carrying out tree work.
Please if you see a wildlife casualty ring for help straight away. Do not leave it to see what happens or as well intentioned as it may be, have a go at looking after it yourself. Time to rescue and treatment is very important and life saving.
29th April 2013
Releases, Incoming, Events, Improvements & Volunteers.
Finally we seem to have some sunny days even if the temperatures aren’t quite as warm as the sun might suggest. This has meant that we have been able to start releasing hedgehogs over-wintered here back into the wild.
Over the last couple of weeks the main activity has been around contacting release sites to ensure that they are ready to go, contacting those who have fostered hedgehogs over the winter for us and readying the hedgehogs that have spent the winter months here.
The evening activities apart from the usual rescue duties have revolved around transporting hedgehogs to release sites, receiving hedgehogs back from the fosterers for checkups pre-release and rotating hedgehogs around from the rescue area into the pre-release pens and then finally off into the wild.
With the large numbers of hedgehogs over-wintered this year this has been a pressured time and it is still ongoing, however it is what it is all about – getting them back into the wild, fit and well and with the best possible start.
On the flip side it also means that we now have a lot of pens to deep clean to get them ready for this years influx of hedgehogs needing care.
This year all of the released hedgehogs are also being tagged allowing us to track their progress and identify any that come back to us. The post release information is extremely useful and it is great to have already received some reports of hedgehogs released last year starting to visit their release gardens after coming out of hibernation.
Sadly and inevitably there have already been a number of new cases.
We have had to respond to rescue one hedgehog that had become trapped about 3ft down a circular drain which was just about the circumference of a balled up adult hedgehog. This isn’t a particularly nice task to perform in the dark with your hand down a drain with a hedgehog covered in… – well the less said about that the better. Luckily the hedgehog came out without too many issues and is now after a few days in the rescue area fit and ready to go. It won’t be released back to the same area as on investigation we found a number of uncovered drains. This has been reported and we have assurances that the matter will be dealt with however this hedgehog will be off to pastures new to ensure that it has the best possible start.
Sadly we have had one small hedgehog in with a broken back leg which failed to heal resulting in the leg having to be amputated. After some initial concerns immediately post op the hedgehog has responded well and is gaining weight nicely. This hedgehog once fully rehabilitated will go to a secure garden to live as natural a life as possible as it would face pressures in the wild that would leave it at a severe disadvantage.
The most recent admission is a 500 gram male with severe respiratory distress. It has been receiving treatment now for a number of days and is starting to look a little brighter. Sadly it also has a rather heavy internal parasite burden as well so it is on a quite intensive treatment regime and it will be with us for some time.
This years events have started to kick off. The bad weather earlier in the year causing the cancellation of the first but fingers crossed things have now started to improve. Hedgehog Awareness week is now on the horizon and we have six events booked in over the period of the week which will mean a busy time for us.
At the events we will be available to give advice about hedgehogs and providing food and habitat for them, we will have displays on some of the cases we get at the rescue unit and will be happy to talk about the work we do. We will also be taking details from anyone who is interested being a potential release site, a secure garden, or who might like to get involved in helping us by volunteering. We would also like your hedgehog sightings to add to our records helping to build up a better picture of hedgehog populations and areas. You can also do this via the website by visiting the survey page or contact us by email for a more indepth survey form. We have had a good response so far but we need as many sightings as possible to build the best picture we can of how are native hedgehog is doing in Worcestershire and South Birmingham and where the hot spots and weak spots are for hedgehogs.
We will also be fundraising and there will be items for sale including handmade hedgehog related goodies as well as tombola and raffles. We rely on these funds to be able to run the rescue unit and all of monies donated or from sales go to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of the hedgehogs we rescue.If you have any items suitable for raffles or tombola please contact us. (Event dates are on the events page).
This year we do need some extra help with the activities we carry out. We are looking for help in a number of areas including; help with set-up and manning of road show events and help with the daily routines of cleaning and providing food in the rescue area and with hoglets.
Due to some work pattern changes we desperately need to train up two more hoglet nannies to work alongside our current hedgehog nanny. When we are both at work any hoglets in our care still need to be fed every two hours during the day. Hoglets needing this care would be transported to the hoglet nanny first thing in the morning and collected again after work. This is a responsible task and full training and equipment required will be provided. So if you think you could offer even just one day a week then please contact us. More details are available on the volunteering page.
At this point I have to say a big thank you to our hoglet nanny who also taken on being a fosterer for over-wintering hedgehogs and who has now also taken on the roll of helping vet potential release sites and for some releases. Sue you are a star and we very much appreciate what you do, I'm sure the orphaned hoglets will be arriving soon enough as well!)
Jayne has been on the case in the last month regarding new build houses. There are a number of quite large housing projects underway or planned in some of the areas we cover and Jayne has been campaining to ensure that the builders take hedgehogs into account. Sadly too many gardens now have gravel boards which stop any chance of hedgehogs being able to access gardens. The solution is as simple as a 4" hole at ground level each side of the garden, so she is putting the case for access for hedgehogs. Something we all need to consider in our gardens, it's no good having lots of potential habitat and no access to it.
Finally we have been able through kind donations to improve some of the hospital area facilities.
Last month after an appeal Bromsgrove school donated one of their microscopes providing a vast improvement on the microscope that we had at the time. This helps massively with the identification of internal parasites speeding up identification and then the correct treatment regimes.
This month we also have been able to purchase a second intensive life support unit for the hospital after a kind offer of a reduce price and subsequently those who donated money to enable us to purchase it. The incubators are literally life savers allowing us to raise very small hoglets and provide controlled temperature, humidity and administer appropriate vapor treatment to very ill hedgehogs such as those suffering from respiratory distress such a pneumonia. Thank you to those who have enabled us to add these improvements to the hospital. We have also had three additional outdoor runs donated to us allowing us to place more hedgehogs outside in enclosures pre-release helping to relieve pressure on the hospital pens and allowing us to acclimatise more long term hedgehogs at a time.
Photos: Top - Bramble, Middle - Shirley - two of last winters juveniles. Middle - Parsley, Bottom - Ringo, Trouble & finally, Willowherb.
30th March 2013
A bad start to the year
2013 hasn't proved to be the greatest of starts to a year for hedgehogs. Continual cold weather right through the first three months of the year, minus temperatures a regular occurrence and a lot of snow has meant that any hedgehogs waking from hibernation have done so into a rather hostile environment. With fat reserves pretty much burnt up during hibernation hedgehogs wake wobbly and disorientated and in need of finding food and water urgently. Natural food which sadly isn't there at the moment, and water that is probably frozen.
This has resulted in a number of hedgehogs coming into us at weights of well under 500 grams and more often nearer 400 grams. Sadly hedgehogs on waking from hibernation even when under the best of conditions get into trouble and these admissions have included head traumas, a smashed lower jaw and the most recent suffering from a broken tibia. It is important at the moment to give hedgehogs a helping hand to give them the best chance on waking from hibernation. Leaving some food and water out is a lifesaver. You can leave out some hedgehog food; cat or dog biscuits mixed with some unsalted crushed peanut nibs, sunflower hearts, sultanas and bird suet along with a dish of water and this can simply mean the difference between a hedgehog surving or not. Another way to help emerging hedgehogs is to keep an eye out for any out in daylight or any small wobbly ones out at night.
If you see either of the above pick the hedgehog up and put it into a high sided box with an old towel to hide under, pop it somewhere warm and quiet away from human activity and call your local hedgehog rescue or wildlife rescue centre. Acting promptly also substantially increases the hedgehogs chance of recovery, the longer the animal is left the less chance of treatment being successful.
The little chap at the top of this entry came in after being spotted in the road. He presented with a lot of broken spines and one of his back legs splayed at an angle. On examination and xray he proved to have suffered a broken tibia. He is now on medication and the leg is in a cast. Recovery will take some time and once the cast is off he will spend some time under observation to see how well the leg has set which will determine if he can return to the wild or the less preferable option of being relocated to a secure garden.
Sadly another hedgehog in is suffering from a very bad case of fluke. This is a very nasty internal parasite which can cause severe liver damage. Small improvements are being seen but it is very early days.
An easier case to deal with has been a hedgehog that came in with a mite issue with spine loss and a very flaky skin. He has responded well to treatment and is now awaiting warmer weather for release. Of course due to this prolonged very cold start to the year we still have around 80 hedehogs on top of the new admissions waiting for release and we hope that spring kicks in very soon.
We have to say a big thank you to Bromsgrove School and their Biology department, and specifically Sarah for the donation of one of their old microscopes. It may have been an old one for them but it is far better than the micropscope we were using for identification of internal parasites. The correct identification of which is very important to be able to start correct treatment regimes.
Finally for those who like audio, there are now a number of short audios on the surveys page looking at different subjects related to hedgehogs. Time allowing these will build over the year into a little audio library. There are also some plans in the pipeline to add some new ways of using the website and following the fortunes of some of our patients. More about this will be made public the nearer we get to the launch.
2nd March 2013
There is nothing cute or cuddly about the picture above. However that is the same kind of hedgehog that in a normal post would get an awww reaction. Sadly this hedgehog isn't going to get that reaction as it has been seriously injured by a strimmer. What you can see is the top of its head where the skin has been totally severed, the wound covering 80% of its head. The hog came in this evening, weighing in at only 500 grams. We haven't been able to speak to the finders as it was left on the doorstep of one of our fostercarers.
It is fairly obvious from its weight and the injury that this is (or was as unsuprisingly it is awake now) a hibernating hedgehog where on a sunny weekend day at the beginning of spring it was time to mow the lawn and strim the edges. Please, check your garden before mowing and strimming, if you don't this is the result and it only takes five minutes to check first. This hedgehog is now is settled in, the wound has been cleaned and anti-biotics and analgesics have been administered, it will be going to our vets tomorrow. I cannot stress enough... Check before mowing and strimming
Update 3rd March.
Now this isn't the first strimmer injury we have had to deal with by any means and it won't be the last but I am going to keep this case updated as I think the message needs to get through of what this poor animal is having to go through.
The hedgehog even though very weak made it through the night and the wounds were cleaned and flushed again this morning. It has been seen by the vet and they are happy that the treatment and medication routine is right for the injury. It may have to go under to have some of the dead area of skin removed however it is remaining on treatment and observation and it will have another visit to the vet early in the week to see if it does need any skin cutting away and if it is strong enough by then to be able to survive going under.
The hog has been receiving fluids by injection throughout the day (and I was in there at 1.30am this morning), it does not have the strength to drink or eat for itself. It is on two types of antibiotic, pain killers and had the wound flushed again this evening (as well as at 8am) with a weak iodine solution. The extent of the wound looks worse now than the picture at the top of this entry now that it has been flushed a few times and now that some dead flesh has come away. The hedgehog is not comfortable to say the least and this is something that we have to monitor, if the stress is beyond a reasonable limit then we will euthanise rather than have an animal in extreme discomfort for an extended period. At present after the discomfort of more injections and the wound flush it is curled into a tight ball on blankets in the back of a heated pen.
Another round of fluids and they now seem to be doing the trick with the hedgehog showing more signs of movement. However with movement comes the possibility of stress on the injury, still this is a positive sign. We are also starting to try to hand feed some weak prescription food glop to build up the hedgehogs strength to help it fight infection and to help if it does have to go under anesthesia in a couple of days.
Update 4th March
Sadly when going in to administer medication and fluids and to change bedding etc before heading off to work I found that this little hedgehog had lost the fight for life some time during the night. A mixture of post hibernation weakness and an awful injury was too much. We and our vets try the best we can (and we wouldn't do it if there wasn't a reasonable chance of recovery), but this time we lost.
7th January 2013
Another year has come and gone and we find ourselves making plans for the coming year. 2012 proved to be a very busy year with the number of casualties increasing by a significant amount resulting in a total revamp of the hospital area expanding the size, allowing easier access to pens, additional capacity and a redesign of the examination and food prep areas. Sue our hoglet nanny came on board to help us with the many litters of hoglets that come into us and our foster network has grown allowing us to care for many more hedgehogs at a time with well ones needing to gain weight or to be overwintered going out to foster. At the moment we have around thirty hedgehogs out at foster for the winter with another fifty or so in the hospital here. Spring is going to be a very busy time with releases once we get there.
We had to increase our fund raising efforts to cover the costs of running the unit and most of the year it has been a case of there being no time for anything other than our own jobs, our working in rescue and rehabilitation and fundraising. Of course education is a very important factor to us and again we gave a number of talks to schools and groups as well as talking to many hundreds of people on our roadshows. The upshot of this is that there are many more people now aware of the plight of our native European Hedgehog and a good many more people keeping an eye out for them and a lot of hedgehog homes now put in place with people leaving food and water out for them. It is gratifying when we get calls and emails, as we do, from people we have met on roadshows who then contact us to tell us they have hogs in the garden or have put a hog home in. A number of hogs in trouble have also come in during the year spotted by children who have been in the classes I have talked to in various schools, the children remembering that a hog out in daylight needs help.
This year we are expecting the numbers of incoming patients to increase and again we are planning more updates to the hospital area. New fundraising initiatives are being worked on including a big event towards the end of the year. Schools (including repeat visits) and groups are being booked in and hopefully some projects with schools will get off the drawing board this year. We are also working on projects to improve and provide habitat for wildlife including our spiny friend more details of which will be given as the projects progress.
We would both like to thank our volunteers and supporters for all their help in 2012, we would also like to thank all those that took the time to bring casualties in to us. Without the support we would not be able to operate,.So thank you once again to all who work with us and support us is so many ways, including our vets Townsend in Bromsgrove, our hoglet nanny, our foster carers, those looking after disabled hogs in secure gardens, those who have donated both money and gifts for tombolas etc and our suppliers who have often given generous discounts.
Finally to end this update I would like to introduce our 2013 Jam Jars for Hedgehogs fundraising initiative. A simple idea, once you have finished your jar of favourite jam, wash it out and pop those loose coins in there that normally get left on the shelf and when the jar is full contact us with all money raised going to help rescue and treat the hedgehogs that find their way to us. You can also support us during the months of January and February by voting for us as one of the nominated charitable causes in ASDA Bromsgrove by popping the green token available at the checkouts in our charitable cause slot. We really need all the help we can get to continue to help our only native spiny mamal.
OK, finally, finally for this update the pictures included in the post are top Snowflake and middle Oscar two of this autumns recues that are now out at foster for the winter.
13th November 2012
A very busy time
Finally an update. These last few weeks have proved to be the busiest we have seen so far, with at times several hogs being admitted a day, which puts a lot of pressure on a small rescue unit such as ourselves. This autumn has proved to be a terrible one for our native hedgehogs with many juveniles being found dehydrated, hungry and ill as well as a number suffering from injuries. No sooner have we been able to free pens with large healthy hogs released or via those going out to foster to put on weight or be overwintered, the pens have been filled again within hours and sometimes minutes.
We have to say at this point a massive thank you to our small band of foster carers that have taken in a considerable number of hedgehogs once treated here to overwinter them. Some of the foster carers have now found themselves with five or more hedgehogs to overwinter and they have been building hutches to support us by providing more accomodation to free our own precious space up in the hospital.
Normally on an update such as this I would put up some photographs of some of the current patients, however with things as they are this is just not on the list of things practical to do. So I have taken a couple of photographs showing some of the pens in the rescue area many of which have pairs of siblings and some of the largest pens have upto four small siblings in them.
The majority of hedgehogs being admitted are in the 200 gram region with some well under this. Most of the hogs this year are requiring medication, far more than is usual and we are seeing far more cases that needed critical care. The incubator again seems to be powered down only to need switching back on for another juvenile on the edge of loosing the battle for life. All juveniles come in cold and dehydrated needing time in the pens that have heat under them before moving over to non heated pens when stronger and well.
Please this autumn keep a diligent eye out for small juveniles, the numbers coming in here (and at rescue units all over the country) attest to the hugh numbers of underweight juveniles out in the wild and in our towns and gardens that will die over the next weeks if they are not spotted and rescued. Any hedgehogs out in daylight or looking wobbly or obviously injured need to be rescued without delay. Any hedgehog that is under 550 grams please call a rescue centre for advice and any small juveniles will have to be rescued as they cannot put on the weight needed for hibernation.
Please also make sure that there is always clean water out at ground level and if you can leave some dry cat or dog food out (meaty flavours), this can be supplemented with things such as bird suet, unsalted crushed peanut nibs, sunflower hearts, sultanas and a few mealworms.
Once again our heartfelt thanks to those that support us, we couldn't carry out our work without your support given in so many ways and our thanks also to those who take the time to spot wildlife in trouble and act to save their lives by bringing them into us.
Finally, we do need help to continue with our work. We are getting through massive amounts of food, medicines, disposable medical items such as hyperdermic needles and syringes, examination gloves, newspapers, hand towels the list goes on. Any help no matter how small it may seem to you helps us to continue saving lives. Please see the helping page for more information.
10th October 2012
I may as well start this update with one of the latest admissions here at Willows. Well admission may be the wrong term as this little hoglet was born here prematurely about a week ago.
His mum in the incubator at the time gave birth to a litter of four premature hoglets. Sadly three did not survive, however this little guy the largest of the four has
battled on and now is being hand raised. He weighs in at a tiny 40 grams at the moment and there is a while of intensive hand feeding to go. Sadly his mum who was poorly herself didn’t make it and we are routing for this little guy to make it as without her providing the initial feeding for him he would not have made it to even this stage, especially being premature. She got Tiny (as he is called for now) to a weight that we could take over the feeding with a good chance of success and as sad as we are at her not pulling through herself, we are indebted to her for living long enough to give us a chance with her precious surviving hoglet.
Barley below came in after being observed outside during daylight on school grounds. We missed the initial call and one of the children’s parents took him home to look after him. Barley subsequently came into us and on examination we discovered that one of his back feet was missing and he had been managing by walking around on the protruding bone. Luckily for Barley the wound had semi healed without any infection and from the colour of the bone and look of the soft tissue he had been managing like this for some time.
Barley has received an operation to remove the bone and tidy up the wound and since then has been progressing well receiving meds for pain and to stop any infection.
The litter of four hoglets below came into us with mum when their nest was accidentally destroyed. Work was being carried out to remove a tree and sadly only after the tree came down was it discovered that mum had made her nest in amongst the roots and she was in there with four small hoglets. With disturbance such as this she could have easily abandoned the hoglets leaving them to inevitable death. So mum and hoglets came into us andall are doing well.
There have been many hedgehogs in and out of the unit since the last update and I have updated the photo album of hedgehogs (link on the front page) with pictures of around twenty of the present patients.
The hospital area redesign and improvements couldn’t have come at a more relevant time as the numbers of hedgehogs coming in are increasing all the time. Three years ago we set an aim of taking in up to ten hedgehogs at any one time. Well, three years on forty hedgehogs being treated at the same time in the hospital has become the norm, and this is still increasing. With the new design and extension of the rescue area we can now work more efficiently and the housing for hedgehogs has been increased allowing us to be able to cope with the demands put on us at present. We also now have more foster carers who are able to take over the feeding up of hedgehogs awaiting release and this is going to be more and more important I am sure as time goes on. I can easily see us with fifty hedgehogs in at any one time in the near future and that is going to mean needing all the support we can get. The way things are going this year with already well over one hundred hedgehogs in this year I can easily see us nearing a hundred and fifty or so treated in 2012.
On a final note, now that our big September Fundraiser is over, finishing with a animal rescue event at Sanders Park, I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported us. The months events and big raffle raised £1121, 100% of which will go towards caring for the many hedgehogs that come in to us.
To end this update, some more juveniles. Aster and Thorn (below) two hoglets born here in September .Their mum was attacked by a dog and came in for treatement and gave birth shortly afterwards in the hospital area.