Saturday, 13 December 2014

Albus And Battle With The Netting

On the 26th November I received a call from a gentleman who had discovered a hedgehog badly tangled in some netting (the third such call this year). He'd carefully cut away what he could but didn't know if there was any around the hedgehog's legs. I advised him to drop off at the A120 Medivets where our fab vet, Helen and her team would work their wonders.

The hog was taken in, named Albus and weighed. At just 485 grams he was extremely underweight for his size. We can only assume he'd been there for some time. He was then gassed down, so they could uncurl him. What they found was heart breaking. A couple of his feet were swollen to double the size and the netting had cut deeply into his skin. They carefully removed the netting and tended his wounds.

I picked Albus up and started to care for him. He began to heal however a week later he was still unable to fully retract one of his front legs when he curled up, it was still too swollen. However he had gained 166 grams and had almost lost his waistline (unlike us hedgehogs shouldn't have a waistline).

On the 9th December I dropped Albus off at the A120 vets for a check up. We were all relieved the deep wounds were healing and there was no infection. After a little clean I picked him up with the instructions to drop him of three days later on the 12th, which I did. I also dropped off my camera, so one of the nurses could take some photographs for me.

Now I don't normally include 'nasty' images in our blog posts. However I wanted to show you how much damage netting, elastic bands, hair bands and the like can do to our wildlife. Now remember these wounds are two weeks old.  

Wound in right armpit and around leg two weeks after netting was removed.

Wound in left armpit two weeks after netting removed
Having seen these it would be great if you could help us reduce the number of casualties caused by netting by taking the following action:
  • Remove netting from your garden where you can
  • If unable to remove then make it safe by lifting off the ground or at least check every morning to ensure a hedgehog isn't caught
  • Pick up elastic bands etc. whilst you're out, take home, cut up and place in the bin
  • Share this blog post far and wide so others can take action and also spread the word
Believe it or not Albus is extremely lucky. Of the three hogs I've dealt with who were entangled in netting he is the only one to have survived. Sadly we don't know if we can ever return him to the wild, he may be left disabled. Although he is now large enough to hibernate we plan to keep him to the spring and we'll make a decision then. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Hedgehogs in November - British Hedgehog Preservation Society

November is highly significant for our hedgehogs for two reasons. The first is Bonfire night (week) and the other is for hibernation, with many going into hibernation around mid-November.

November 5th comes first so please do take extra care when checking bonfires. It is far better to collect the materials for the fire and only put them into place on the day it is to be lit. Those built before the day can attract hedgehogs, so should be inspected before lighting. If possible lift the materials around the bottom edge of the pile using a broom handle or similar and check for extra piles of leaves or you may even see the hedgehog itself. A disturbed hedgehog may also make a hissing sound (like a snake) to try to intimidate those disturbing it.  Start by lighting one side of the bonfire and allow the quiet side, i.e. the side with the least people standing around, to remain unburnt for a few minutes as this may allow an escape route for any missed hedgehogs.

If you find a hedgehog put it in a high sided box with some meat based cat food and a towel to snuggle under. Put it in a quiet place and once the noise etc. has died down release the hedgehog with its dish of food. However if the hedgehog is on the small side and you are able to weigh please weigh and if under 600 grams contact your local hedgehog carer for advice.
Depending on the weather and how far north you are will depend on when those larger hedgehogs will go into hibernation. Mid November is about the time many will choose. Those that do not hibernate (autumn juveniles), particularly when the weather turns colder will need extra help. 

Regular visitors should be able to cope provided extra food is always put out every evening.  Weighing them regularly should ensure there is a weight gain. If there is a problem e.g. out in the day or there is only a small weight gain or it is still considered too small to hibernate and the weather is closing in then contact your local hedgehog carer of the the BHPS for details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator. In addition those wandering without a regular supply of food and especially when there are frosts expected will struggle to find any natural food, so they too will need to be rescued. So if you find a hedgehog you've not seen around before weigh it and call for advice.

If you are concerned about any hedgehog, or you see one out in the day, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful, but do use gloves when you handle them). For more information about hedgehogs and how to help them, including a leaflet on autumn juveniles visit the BHPS website. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Building the perfect pond

"Make a garden pond and you'll be astonished at the wildlife you encourage - from pond skaters and water boatman to dragonflies and damselflies, frogs, toads and newts."
Alan Titchmarsh

A few days ago I dropped in on one of our lovely fosterers to check on our latest disabled hedgehog (will be blogging about him soon). Whilst I was there I was shown the pond they are in the process of creating. The amazing thing is it's not even finished and a small frog has already moved in. I was so impressed with it that I wanted to share it with you.

So here are the highlights.

Firstly they've made it fairly deep and installed a fountain (the pipe work and cables are still to be sorted, so please ignore those). Now depth is important as dragonfly larva etc. need to be able tuck themselves away at the bottom, so they can survive the cold of our winters. The fountain will help introduce air into the water and stop it becoming stagnant.

Plants have been placed in the pond (you can't see them in my pictures but they are there), which will help attract wildlife and support it should it decide to move in. A pebble beach has been created to allow hedgehogs and other visitors to take a drink (very important during the hot summer months) and easily escape should they fall in.

A shallow waterfall has been designed to allow birds to enjoy a drink and should they wish a little bath as well. Last but not least fish will not be introduced, so this will become an oasis for all manner of insects.

I'm hoping by sharing this you've been inspired to make a little room for a pond. It'll give you hours and enjoyment and will help a huge list of wildlife.

Friday, 28 March 2014

The highs and lows of hedgehog care

The last few weeks have really had their highs and lows.

Low one: 

We've received lots of calls about hedgehogs and sadly many of them were just too poorly for us to save. Our first two hogs of 2014 have sadly not won the fight. But at least someone took the time to pick them up and find help (so I suppose this counts as a high).

Low two:

Shirley on the day she arrived at Elaine's
I received an email about one of our disabled hogs, Shirley. Shirley had been found lying on her side in the middle of a playing field, close to death. Unfortunately she had also been attacked by a rook, raven or a magpie which had so badly damaged her eye that it had to be removed. Shirley had been living with one of our fab full time fosterers, Elaine. Shirley had full run of the garden which she shared with one of our other disabled hedgehogs, Vince. Sadly at the end of last week Shirley's body was discovered. We don't know why she passed but at least we can say she had a little extra time to enjoy being a hog. I'd also like to thank Elaine for taking such great care of her. Without full time fosterers like Elaine we'd not be able to do the work we do.    

High one:

Colin Woodward
We've had some fantastic news in that we've received a fabulous donation from County Councillor Colin Woodward (Bishop's Stortford, West Division). It will be used towards our running costs for the next few months. The money comes from the Locality Budget Scheme. When we applied we didn't think that being such a small organisaiton we'd receive anything. The money is a much needed boost and we have already used some of it to cover the cost of a series of lung worm treatments for one of our 2013 hoglets. Thankfully she has responded so well that she has been relocated to one of our carers. She is undergoing a 'soft' release and should be released back into the wild by the end of this month.

High two:

Helen of the A120 surgery
Our second high has really come from one of our lows. We picked up a hedgehog from the A120 surgery which we believe may have been Bubble Boy. He had been given the full treatment and we kept our fingers crossed he'd pull through, sadly he didn't make it. I called Helen (our award winning vet) to tell her the sad news. Helen being Helen asked me to take his body in so she could do an autopsy (typically she did this in her own precious time and made no charge). What she found was very interesting and she has offered to autopsy all our hedgehogs (that are suitable) over the next few months. She is hopeful she can come up with a method of screening hedgehogs that will allow us to determine much sooner if treatment is going to work or if this treatment is just delaying the inevitable. We also plan to share her findings with The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, so they can be shared with other hedgehog carers. So if you find a hedgehog that has died within the last 48 hours (at the most) and is not badly mutilated (e.g. road kill) then please help Helen with her research by contacting the A120 surgery (just outside Little Hadham) and dropping off the body. Hopefully Helen's research will help us save more hedgehogs by improving the care they receive from the moment they come into us.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Hedgehog Cards Galore

A Book For BrambleI was recently contacted by a  teacher at a local school who had set hedgehogs as the theme for a class project. She asked if I could visit the children and talk to them about hedgehogs and the work we do rescuing them.  I suggested I put my author hat on as well and take my picture book with me 'A Book For Bramble' and read that as part of my visit.

During my visit I was amazed at the facts the children already knew. These included:

  • They are nocturnal
  • Their main defence is to roll into a ball
  • They eat slugs, snails, caterpillars, bugs etc. but you can also feed them hedgehog food or cat/dog food
  • It's good to leave water out for them during hot weather 
  • Our hedgehog population is in decline
  • There are different types of hedgehogs
  • Hedgehogs are quite good swimmers
  • A hedgehog can run up to 4 miles per hour (although I know they are fast, as I've had to chase escapees, I didn't know it was that fast)
Now although I enjoyed the visit I must admit what arrived today in the post really made the visit special. An envelope containing hedgehogs cards galore. They will go into the hedgehog shed and pinned to the wall but before I did that I wanted to share them with you.

All the cards kindly sent to me by the children

Hedgehogs galore!

Lots of hogs plus a little mouse called Teasel 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing these images. If you're a teacher about to cover the theme of hedgehogs and would like me to visit please click on the 'support us' button for more details.

Last but not least this winter our hedgehogs have really struggled, many may have sadly died in the floods. So they need our help more than ever. So if you know a hedgehog visits your garden then you may wish to supply it with a new home or perhaps leave some food out. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Hedgehogs in March - Written by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Rescued hedgehog eating
Rescued hedgehog feeding of cat food
Well it has been a funny old year for the hedgehogs.  On the one hand the weather has been mild and has given many smaller hedgehogs a chance to fatten up and hibernate.  On the other hand it has been very wet, this can mean that many hedgehogs will have used wet bedding to make their nests which is not ideal.  In addition of course there has been lots of flooding and this may have had a dramatic effect on the hedgehogs living in or near those flooded areas.

If there are any mild spells at this time of year the male hedgehogs might be encouraged out of hibernation – the males seem to awake a little earlier than the females, although nothing is set in stone.  If you are tempted into the garden in warmer weather do take care when tidying or moving piles of leaves etc. especially if you know there have been hedgehogs in the garden in 2013.

Hedgehogs coming out of hibernation will be very thirsty – having not had a chance to drink for several months, and they will also be hungry and in a poor condition.  Give them a helping hand by putting out hedgehog food and water for them (click on links for a suitable hog feeder and water bowl).  Keep ponds topped up too although many will be full anyway following the rain.  If you are not sure whether there are hedgehogs visiting, rather than waste the food, you can put out dry biscuits for them (hedgehog or cat biscuits would be fine), this can be left out for some time before it needs to be thrown away, rather than the wet foods that go off quickly.

If you have a hedgehog house you could place a small piece of screwed up paper in the entrance – this will be brushed aside as the hedgehog comes out of the box so you will know it is awake.  Also if you know your box is empty you can use the paper to tell whether someone has started to use it.

If you are concerned about any hedgehog that you see contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful).  Out of hours you will be directed to other numbers but whatever the time, with patience, you should be able to speak to a real person.  For more information about hedgehogs and how to help check out our pages at the top of this blog.