Saturday, 16 June 2018

How much to rescue a hedgehog?

I was recently asked how much time and money I spend looking after hedgehogs. I could give a rough estimate for the average cost over a year, as I always keep a track of income and expenditure. It tends to average between £1200 to £1500 per year. However, I've never worked out the monetary cost or time spent caring for a single hedgehog. So, I decided I'd work out how much it's cost to raise Doug over the last three weeks.

Doug enjoying his food.

Here's the results:

Time cost
For the first three weeks of his life Doug needed feeding on a continuous basis. For the first two weeks it was at least every three hours with the first feed at 6am and the last at midnight. On average it took 15 minutes. So over a three week period that totals approximately 36 hours!

Monetary costs
There's a lot of 'things' you need to care for a hoglet as young as Doug (approximately 2-3 days old when he was found). These include non-consumables such as:

  • Towels - thankfully donated
  • Pet carrier - again a much appreciated donation
  • Heat Pad  = £30
  • Small cage = £50

Plus small items such as storage pots, bowls and syringes etc.

Then there's food and cleaning products  (for the first three weeks):

  • Goats milk x 3  = £4.95
  • Puppy formula = £34.38
  • Cotton wool balls = £1.50
  • Sudacream = £3.00
  • Napisan = £3.75
  • Hand disinfectant = £18.15
  • F10 cage cleaner = £11.99
  • iD Hills food x 3 = £4.41

So to feed and keep him clean has cost around £80 for the first three weeks and we have at least 4-5 weeks to go!

Thankfully the next stage in his life is already covered because over the last 25 years I've managed to raise funds to purchase a range of items. This means I'm now in a position to care for up to eight hedgehogs at a time. This hasn't been cheap and the major purchases have been:

  • A shed = £1200
  • Six large hutches = £300
  • Two small hutches = £60
  • Nebuliser = £60
  • Heater = £30
  • Spare plug in heat pad = £30
  • Snuggle safe heat pad = £10
  • 2 spare pet carriers - donated
  • Flooring - donated

So, in answer to the originally question I was asked. I think it's fair to say the cost may just surprise you.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Hedgehogs in June • Kay Bullen BHPS

This is the start of the breeding season and hoglets will be starting to arrive. You may already have seen the hedgehogs’ courtship with the huffing sounds and the male circling the female. Until she is ready to mate she will keep facing the male, so he will have to keep circling to try to approach from the rear.

If successful, after about 32 days 4-5 hoglets will be born. They’re naked, so no fur or prickles and they are deaf and blind as well. Within a few hours their first set of prickles push through, they are white and in straight lines down the back. The brown prickles start to appear after around 36 hours but the fur takes a little longer. Eyes open at around 14 days with the ears opening a few days later.

The babies would not normally leave the nest, to forage with mum, until they are about 4 weeks old and at this stage they are miniatures of their mother. Hoglets that appear before they are 4 weeks old are often orphans and they need help. Signs that hoglets are in trouble include, being out in the day, being lethargic and wobbling, squeaking loudly, flies being attracted to them. They soon become hypothermic, dehydrated and the flies will lay eggs on them that hatch into maggots.  Even the older ones will struggle if something has happened to mum.  uick action can save their lives. If you have any doubts about their wellbeing give the BHPS a call (01584 890801) or contact a local hedgehog rescue.

Until you’re able to contact someone put the hoglet(s) indoors on a covered, hand hot, hot water bottle (replace water as it cools). Put this in a high sided box and place a towel over them to keep in the warmth and give some security. Very small hoglets with their eyes still closed will be not able to take solids; for bigger hoglets you could mix some water with mashed up meat-based cat food to make it sloppy, don’t try to force feed them. Hand rearing is very complex, so they should be passed to a hedgehog rehabilitator as soon as possible.

If you only find one hoglet do bear in mind there could be others. Check your garden for more. If you’ve found the hoglet(s) on a walk, try to repeat that walk over the next 4-5 days or longer if possible to keep an eye out for any siblings that may also be in trouble.

If you are concerned about any hoglets or adult hedgehogs contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Hedgehogs in May • Kay Bullen BHPS

All the hedgehogs should be awake from their hibernation now.  The early risers may also be pregnant so now is a good time to think about making our gardens safer for them.
If you are setting traps put them somewhere where they cannot be reached by hedgehogs.   If you are using poisons again keep them out of reach of hedgehogs and any other animals, wild and domestic.  Many people do not realise that they have a legal duty to do their best to stop animals other than those targeted from accessing traps or poisons. The following is taken from an official Government web site.

Protecting other wildlife from harm you must protect other animals from traps or poison you put down for pests by:

  • placing lethal traps under cover or so that other animals and birds aren’t caught
  • preventing wildlife from eating poison you’ve put down

Many people use chemicals in the garden, some will be more wildlife friendly than others and there are various websites about organic gardening.  However if you feel you must use chemicals in the garden, especially if you have resident (and possibly pregnant) hedgehogs around here are a few tips.

Take time to read the instructions, when did you last read the suggested “dose” for the slug pellets you are planning to use. Try to restrict access to the chemicals, perhaps put pellets under a slate or old tile or a piece of old carpet and collect the dead slugs and snails up in the morning.  Please remember that killing slugs and snails reduces the amount of natural food in your garden for hedgehogs and some birds.

If applying a liquid application for your lawn perhaps use in the morning so it is dry by the time hedgehogs are out and about. Don’t leave any puddles of chemicals around that wildlife may drink or bathe in.  If possible cover the area treated to restrict access to other wildlife, you could perhaps use some carrot fly netting that allows light and water through but not animals. 

If you use ant powder or similar apply sparingly and wash it away before the evening – if a hedgehogs sniffs the powder it may be in serious trouble.

It is safer for you, your family, pets and wildlife to use non-chemical methods of pest and weed control where possible and appropriate, and when using approved humane traps check them regularly.

Hedgehog Awareness Week runs from 6thto 12thMay this year and is a perfect time to remind friends and neighbours to take care of hedgehogs when gardening you can find out more about the week on social media using #hedgehogweek or at the BHPS website.

If you are concerned about any hedgehogs you should see contact your local hedgehog rescue or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (01584 890801), they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Hedgehogs in April • Kay Bullen BHPS

More and more hedgehogs will be waking from their long hibernations. They will be very thirsty, hungry and in some cases weak and unwell.

Keep a good look out for any that need help, the sooner they are rescued the better the chance they will survive. 

Now would be a good time to introduce a new hedgehog box to your garden. Male hedgehogs are more nomadic in the breeding season so may only make and use a nest for a short time, indeed in the warmer weather they may just hide under a pile of leaves rather than making an actual nest. However, the females will be looking for a place to raise their family.  

If you have a new nest box you could sprinkle some hedgehog biscuits inside the box to encourage them in, but once there is an occupant stop leaving food in the box as it may attract other hedgehogs.  A female with new born would not welcome visitors and may abandon her young. Any feeding stations should then be a distance away from the occupied nest box.  

Do not be tempted to look inside the nest box, rather place a small piece of screwed up paper just inside the entrance, this will be pushed aside as the hedgehog emerges and you will know it is occupied.  Repeat after 3-4 days as sometimes a female will not leave the nest for several days after giving birth. It really is important not to disturb the box when it is occupied.

If you are concerned about any hedgehogs you should see contact your local hedgehog rescue or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (01584 890801), they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact. 

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Hedgehogs in February by Kay Bullen (BHPS)

Surprisingly there may still be a few hedgehogs around this month especially where people put out food regularly. This extra food allows the smaller hedgehogs to decide when they are ready to hibernate rather than be forced into a hibernation because of lack of food. However, some of the smaller hedgehogs will not have sufficient fat stored to allow them to even contemplate hibernation and the extra food is a real-life saver for them.

Tidying the garden
Do take care when tidying the garden, piles of leaves and compost heaps may well be providing sanctuary for hibernating hedgehogs.  Some hedgehogs hibernate in pampas grass so burning the grass to remove the dead leaves can be very dangerous for them, indeed any burning in the garden should be undertaken with caution.

What to do if you find a hedgehog 
If you should find a hedgehog out in the day, particularly if it is wobbling or has fallen asleep in the open, this is some basic first aid for it. It needs to go into a high-sided box, use a piece of towel or similar to pick it up without getting prickled and bring the box indoors. Cover a hot water bottle with a towel (use warm/hot water so as not to scald the hedgehog but to provide a nice gentle heat) and place the hedgehog on this leaving the cloth you that you used to pick it up covering it. It can have some meat-based dog or cat food and a dish of water.  Don’t forget to keep changing the water in the bottle as if allowed to go cold it will do more harm than good. If you don’t have a hot water bottle use a plastic milk carton or drinks bottle and loosely wrap a towel around the hedgehog and bottle to keep them together, remember this will lose heat more quickly than a hot water bottle so keep changing the water or swapping the bottles. Make sure the water isn’t hot enough to damage a plastic bottle, but warm enough to offer some heat for the hedgehog.

Where to find help 

If you are concerned about any hedgehogs you should contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact.  Contact them on 01584 890801 or for general advice visit their website (follow link above).