Hurray for Hedgehog week!

From 3-9th May this week it’s Hedgehog week and as such we at Woodlands Animal Sanctuary wanted to mark the event with a weeklong homage to our spiky friends.  From fun facts, to hints and tips for you, so you can help to help them, follow our Facebook page to see a themed post each day this week. 

Hedgehogs are native to this country & have in fact been treading our soils since the last ice age! But, recently their numbers had dropped to a worrying low.  With a lot of help, and a nationwide effort, however, their numbers have begun to increase.

Hedgehogs, whilst not being hugely sociable themselves, certainly pose no threat to us or our environment.  And, interestingly, they don’t particularly have any natural predators either!  So, you may wonder how they became so nearly endangered.  Unfortunately, fundamentally this was down to us and a change in our lifestyles and environments.  With reduced natural wild flowers & hedgerows, increased fencing of our properties and the use of pesticides, the hedgehogs’ environment has been dramatically reduced and their food sources seriously affected.

Whilst they will trample across your lawn and scamper around your veg patch, they will also scoop up all the bugs you are trying so hard to eradicate, because they love slugs, beetles and caterpillars all of which are insects we would class as pests and that we can spend a lot of time and often money trying to get rid of!  They may even take a dip in your pond, but, you will never know that they were there, because like Jack Frost they leave no footprints, and wish no harm to your decorative railings, expensive and highly pruned hedge, beautifully crafted flower beds or your lovingly painted fence.  Their only request is an escape route out of your garden, which needs only be a 3cm squared space through which they can saunter.  Contributing to these ‘hedgehog highways’, will mean that you are giving the one million hedgehogs that are left in this country, (this has reduced by 30% in the last 10 years alone) a chance to survive. 

So while we are all spending more time at home, trying desperately to find a way to enjoy the space we have and spend time outside where possible, why not let these little mammals help you with your gardening you will also be playing your part in supporting and helping to rejuvenate a native British wild species; one that has outlived the sabre toothed tiger, survived the ice age and lived alongside bears and wolves when they were living as wild animals on British soil! 

If you fancy seeing Mrs, or Mr, Tiggy-Winkle tip toeing across your lawn, gardening for you, free of charge, its actually surprisingly easy – hedgehogs are merely seeking food (insects as previously discussed, but dry cat food can also be a nutritious option, & is more easily to hand), safety; a pile of leaves and twigs, dense shrubbery will do, anywhere they can safely hide and sleep & the space to roam as they see fit; this is why ‘hedgehog highways’ are needed, hogs can travel up to 2km per night (similar to 20 small gardens linked together). 

But, remember!  Hedgehogs are nocturnal and so should only be seen out and about after dark and so, if you see a hog out in the day, It’s not OK and there will be something wrong with it.  In this case you will need to pick it up, in an old towel or thick gloves, place it in a box or other secure container and give it a direct source of heat.  This can be done with a hot water bottle, or even an old plastic drinks bottle, filled with hot water, wrapped with a tea towel and put the hog on it in the box.  Providing this heat source, is the most effective way of you providing first aid to a sick hedgehog.  No further treatment can be given – it is almost certain that they will need further treatment, even if you cannot see any obvious wounds or injuries, if the hog’s temperature is not within the normal range.  Once you have done this it is a good idea to contact a reputable hog rescue to see if they are able to take the hog in.

We at Woodlands Animal Sanctuary take in hedgehogs to rehabilitate and release 365 days a year – even during lockdown!  We are available during work hours, but also have an intake slot during the evening if you do find a hog and cannot get there during the day.  Our charity requires, however, that you always phone prior to taking a hog to them and this is especially important during lockdown.  Our team are still taking in hogs at the moment, but like their cat rehoming process, this has changed slightly with current circumstances and can be talked through with you over the phone prior to your visit.

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