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Archive for the ‘Helpful Hints 4 Hedgehogs’ Category

Hedgehog Hints-October 2013

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

hedgehog-2Help-Hedgehog populations have declined by 50 % the last 25 years and could be extinct by the year 2050! Please take 5 minutes to make a difference to a hedgehog’s life to read and implement my tips.

Educate – Erinanceous Europaeus (hedgehog). They live in woodland, pasture, hedgerows, parks and gardens and breed in spring and autumn producing 4-5 babies. They can live for up to ten years but normally only 4 years in the wild. The hedgehog is a UK priority species meaning conservation measures are being put in place.

Dangers – Hedgehogs are declining due to loss of habitat & hedgerows, less rough field edges where hedgehogs forage, loss of suitable urban areas and an increase in the use of pesticides which kill the invertebrate which hedgehogs eat. Foxes and badgers also kill hedgehogs.

Garden safety – All sport and garden netting should be off the ground, check before mowing, ponds need escape routes, please don’t use slug pellets or insecticides, use environmentally friendly products and allow access in  and out of gardens with 5”x5” hole.

Eat – Beetles,earthworms, caterpillars. Feed hedgehogs cat food, wet or dry and put out a heavy bowl with water in, not milk especially in these autumn months and also through the winter. Food needs to be in an area away from predators and kept dry such as an upturned washing up bowl with an access hole of 5×5 inches.

Home – Create a leaf pile, log pile, un-mown garden areas – somewhere a hedgehog can  make a warm nest and hide from predators.

Observe – See a hedgehog in day light hours or injured? It’s poorly – catch it, place it on a wrapped up hot water bottle on a towel in a box. Then contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for further advice.

Good neighbours – Hedgehogs and humans can easily live side by side as long as the humans are careful about what they put in their garden and where they put it. Never use slug pellets! It can be very rewarding to see a hedgehog in your garden and they need your help!

Saving lives – Please help save our British Hedgehogs. Recently I’ve had a hedgehog brought to me caught in garden netting, he has lost an eye and may lose a leg from where he was trapped and requires a lot of care. Please follow my guidelines above to help these wonderful creatures and make a difference. On behalf of all wildlife hedgehogs, Thank you for your time and effort in making a difference.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more information or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog.

Hedgehog Hints-August 2013

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Harriet-hedgehog

During the months of August and September our wild hedgehogs are busy looking after their young hoglets and trying to eat extra food to start putting on reserves for winter.

Many hedgehogs at this time have a second litter of hoglets and it is often these that become the winter ‘rescues’. Hedgehogs have two litters a year, perhaps due to low survival rates. Having looked after baby hedgehogs myself I often wonder how any of them make it to adult hood at all with all the hazards around. When born they are around the size of a golf ball, spines in place which emerge two hours after birth, but eyes remain closed for the first eight- nine days.

‘Harriet’ was born in my shed; her mum was rescued from a busy road during broad day light and then gave birth a few days later. Harriet was one of three and sadly she was rejected by her mum. This was evident to see as the other two babies were constantly feeding, getting quite large, but every time Harriet went near her mum she got pushed away. So I took Harriet on, she was no larger than my thumb.

Harriet required a lot of care to get her safely through the early days, she was syringe fed and also drank from a bottle lid, she was kept warm with heat pads and several blankets.

She initially did well gaining weight, but then one morning she didn’t wake. Nature took over at that point and looking back it’s possible that her mum knew something was wrong which was why she was rejected and then concentrated on the two ‘healthier’ babies. Survival of the fittest?  I will never know.

As a hedgehog rehabilitator these situations are emotionally hard but sometimes nature does take over despite all the effort and work I put in.

To continue to help our wild hedgehogs, keep an area of your garden ‘wild’, and an opening in your fence so hedgehogs can roam through gardens. Place some dry cat food in a cat free area such as an upturned washing up bowl with 5x5inch entrance hole for the hedgehogs to gain access.

This way they stand a much better chance of finding more food to help their babies and preparing for winter.

If you come across a hedgehog during the day, pick it up and keep it warm with blankets, before getting help.

Hedgehog numbers are still declining, please let’s all work together to save these beautiful creatures.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more information or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog.

Hedgehog Hints-June 2013

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Hedgehog-June-2013The summer months are very busy times for our wild hedgehogs, not only will a large proportion of female hogs have had a litter of hoglets by now but they will also be seeking out potential winter homes, and starting to build fat reserves for winter. Sadly many of the hedgehogs and hoglets do not survive due to hazards such as cars, foxes, badgers, slug pellets, garden netting, and ponds with no escape routes, these are a few of the many reasons why hedgehog numbers continue to be in decline.

But some do survive and it will be most likely around dusk when you may hear a rustling in your back garden. As the night settles in, hedgehogs young and old will merge from their day hiding places, snuffling and searching for food. Hedgehogs literally follow their nose as they meander along and often will stay along the perimeter of a fence searching for food. They have such a strong sense of smell, they can smell food (beetles, worms, grubs) that are up to one inch underground! Hedgehogs get to this food by digging with their large front feet and have an extra long middle nail which is used as their primary digger claw. As the hoglets feet at this time will be small they will also use their snout to help with the digging.

Historically hedgehogs were thought of as being solitary creatures, but this isn’t the case. I have rescued and released several hedgehogs, and many of them tend to stay together even out in the wild. You may have a family of hedgehogs living in your garden this summer, you can help them by ensuring there is water available and an area where they can hide.

Hedgehogs will travel through approx ten gardens a night from 10pm till 3am. As creatures of habit, they will follow the same tracks they have used before, and tend to move between the five houses that they make. Remember if you see a hedgehog out during the day it is in trouble, and needs help.

The summer months are vital to a hedgehog.   Unless it can find enough food to start to build up fat reserves it will not make it through the winter hibernation. Please take ten minutes out of your day and help make your garden hedgehog friendly this summer. You can do this by: ensuring access into other gardens, making an exit ramp out of a pond, leaving a wild overgrown area, putting a ceramic water bowl out, feeding dry meat cat food, creating a waterproof house, keeping netting off the ground and keeping rubbish in closed bins.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more information or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog.

Hedgehog Hints-April 2013

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Hints-for-hedgehogsAs the spring settles in, the hedgehogs wake from their hibernation. 2012 was a difficult year for hibernating hedgehogs as the weather didn’t settle into a normal winter plan. It resulted in many hedgehogs being brought into care, due to flooding of their homes and insufficient materials to build them warm enough. During hibernation the hedgehog slows its breathing to one breath every minute and reduces its core body temperature to conserve energy. It uses fat reserves to get through the harsh winter days.

They make their homes under sheds, in hedgerows, in gardens, compost heaps, and garages. They use mud, hay, grass, logs, sticks, paper, plastic; anything they can find for warmth. Not all hedgehogs survive hibernation; it is dependent on their health and their fat reserves which they build up throughout the year.

As the weather warms into spring, the hedgehog will make around five homes, and will spend their time in each throughout the spring and summer. Please check your garden, NEVER use netting, slug or cat pellets. Ensure you gently turn over compost heaps and check areas before strimming the grass! Try to keep an area that has: long grass, bushes, a log pile, places for a hedgehog to hide. Why not build a hedgehog a home? Something that can keep them dry and warm with a 5×5 inch entrance hole, keeping larger animals out. Items such as an old upturned washing up bowl, logs, wooden box, plastic box or a large plant pot can be used. See what you can create! Ensure your garden has access in and out for a hedgehog, a full water bowl and some cat biscuits in that newly built home, will all entice hedgehogs to visit your garden. The hedgehog has a litter of hoglets twice a year, around the months of May and September. They have four – five hoglets each time as their survival rates are low.

Creating a good environment for a hedgehog in your garden, putting water and food out will increase their survival rates, not only for the adults but their babies too.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk  for more information or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog

Hedgehog Hints-February 2013

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Winky was found trapped in some garden Winkynetting by some kind teenagers.They didn’t know how long she had been there but they carefully cut her free, contacted BHPS (The British Hedgehog Preservation Society) and brought her to me. I raced Winky to my vet who plied her with antibiotics, painkiller and vitamins.

It was three hours before Winky moved, then firmly stroking down her back wearing marigolds I patiently waited for her to uncurl. I held a mirror underneath her and gently used a flat spatula to lift her tummy. I could see a thread of netting by a leg and around her face. It took two hours to remove since it had embedded into her right thigh and across her face. Her wounds were so deep and swollen I could see no eyes and wasn’t sure if her leg was broken. Tweezers and much saline washing solution later, Winky was clean and fly egg free. Its important to bathe any wounds daily using saline and check for fly eggs /maggots.

To aid healing, hedgehogs with acute injuries require highly nutritious food and antibiotics so  I syringe fed Winky a soft paté bought from the vet for several days before she was able to eat it independently.  Over the course of six months Winky had three general anaesthetic operations repairing her injuries. It took over 18 months to rehabilitate her, and thankfully she did eventually have one functioning eye.

Please help hedgehogs live in your garden: never use slug pellets and regularly check your garden for hedgehog hazards like netting.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk 

or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog.

Hedgehog Hints-December 2012

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

 

One sunny and cold winter afternoon, my phone rang. A lady had rescued a hedgehog stuck on an ice puddle. She’d found my number online through The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).    Hedgehog 

If ever a hedgehog is seen out during the day, always pick it up, bring it indoors, as exposure hypothermia is a vicious cycle at any time of year in any weather. Although covered in spines they are not the tough, resilient creatures that we all believe them to be, in fact their numbers are declining so rapidly that they are on the governments priority conservation list.

Once placed inside in a high sided container, items that can be used to warm hedgehogs are: old towels, blankets, covered hot water bottle / heat pad, by a radiator. A hypothermic hedgehog will more than likely be curled in a tight ball, will appear sleepy and may not be fazed by being picked up.

I collected ‘Pringle’ who was cold to touch, placed him on a heat pad and wrapped him in several towels. It took over two hours for him to uncurl and being the size of an orange I could tell he wasn’t very old. Ageing a hedgehog is very difficult. My fruit formula works well: anything less than a garden tomato is under 10 days old, a large satsuma to an orange is between 3- 6 weeks, mango to grapefruit is 8 – 12 weeks and a melon is six months plus. Interestingly for a hedgehog to survive hibernation, it needs to be a minimum of a large melon.

Not all hedgehogs hibernate although most will. Hedgehogs will wake mid hibernation for food so ensure your garden has an accessible ceramic water bowl and meat cat biscuit/ mealworms under some sort of waterproof cover. Then you will be helping these wonderful creatures survive this winter.

When the weather turns cold the hedgehog will seek a winter shelter. They have been found in upturned plant pots, garages, sheds, thick grass, log piles, washing up bowls, carrier/compost bags. They use mud, grass, leaves, hay, sticks to aid warmth and keep them dry.

I knew Pringle was warming when he opened his eyes and started to sniff the air. I placed some meat cat biscuit into the box and some water in a ceramic bowl. The one fact that most people tend to know about hedgehogs is to feed milk and bread, but this myth is sadly incorrect and can cause a hedgehog to have diarrhoea and pain. Never feed milk, bread, gravy, or fish. But feed kitten food (due to teeth size) using fruit formula up to grapefruit size, then cat or dog food (jelly or biscuit) grapefruit size or bigger. Hedgehogs can easily eat 100 grams of food a night roaming several gardens. Their staple food is beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, fallen bird seed, raisins, peanuts and eating slugs and snails as a last resort.

Pringle ate a varied diet over the course of several months, he reached large melon size, then I released him into a wild garden.

www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk

or contact Rachel Begley 07810 004 371 if you find a poorly hedgehog