Since the millenium, it is a sad fact that here in Britain we have lost a third of our hedgehog population. Even worse is the real danger that they could be extinct by 2025 if things do not improve.
Hedgehogs have two litters and the second litter is the one that is most at risk of not having time to gain sufficient weight to hibernate successfully. When hedgehog numbers were high this was not a problem but now….
Over the last few years in particular, my friend Jane has been actively encouraging these endearing little creatures into her garden by providing food and water in her hedgehog hotel. This resulted in her finding and rescuing 5 underweight hedgehogs in December one year and needing to find somewhere to over winter them.
December is an extremely busy time at hedgehog rescue places and many were full, however East Boldre Hedgehog Rescue (Facebook page @eastboldrehedgehogrescue) agreed to take them. It is a longer story that that, but those are the essentials.
Jane and I visited Louise Godden at the rescue which is simply her home at East Boldre. It is a self-funded, not for profit organisation and Louise admits to being unable/unwilling to say no when it comes to hedgehogs. We wanted to raise funds for her and decided that a tea party with a talk from Louise, would be the way to go. She would bring a hedghog along and we would serve scones with jam and cream.
We wanted to keep it small so everyone could sit comfortably and easily hear Louise. We invited around 15 people and ended up with 13 people including ourselves which was a good number.
As expected, her talk was very interesting and informative. She is totally passionate about what she does and all her energy and time goes into caring for sick and injured hedgehogs. Her goal is to make them better and then release them, so she only takes those who are vulnerable and keeps her interventions with them to a minimum.
Did she bring some hogs with her, and do I have pics? Of course I do!
The boy hedgehog in the photo was very active and kept moving, but he and his sister were lovely. They are the result of Louise taking in one very fat female hedgehog who lost weight overnight by producing 5 hoglets! These two are four weeks old and cute as anything.
Here are a few things I learnt from listening to Louise’s talk.
- Hedgehogs can travel about 1 mile nightly searching for food. They need access to lots of gardens so we can help by putting a hedgehog sized hole in our fences to ensure they can get through.
More info on Hedgehog Street https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/
- Louise explained that she can treat hedgehogs who have ingested rat poison, but not ones that have been poisoned by slug pellets so they have to be put down.
- Do not feed hedgehogs mealworms. Hedgehogs may love mealworms but they are not good for them at all. They become addicted and their bones become brittle.
- Water, water. Leave shallow bowls of water in shady places in the garden.
If you are interested in donating to a rescue centre, you should check with your local one to find out what they need/use, but East Boldre can always do with:-
- Old towels
There are many sites with really good information on hedgehogs, but this one seems like a good place to start:-
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
We raised £110 for the centre which will go towards the purchase of an incubator.
Thank you to all who came, but special thanks to Louise, the hogs and the East Boldre Rescue Centre.