Saturday, 9 April 2016

Hedgehogs in April by Kay Bullen (BHPS)

Can be lethal to our wildlife
Many hedgehogs will be out and about now, while a few may be having a lie in.

The winter has been milder and shorter this year although the wet weather may have affected some of the winter nests (hibernaculum).

Even now hedgehogs will be looking for dry bedding. The males, with their nomadic lifestyle at this time of year, may make do with some overhanging twigs and a few leaves seeing as they will not be staying around. However the females need a good dry nest for their nursery. A dry patch under some conifers or similar dense undergrowth would be an ideal place for a nest. Under sheds is another favourite place although often prone to disturbance when sheds are pulled down.

Wound caused by an elastic band
The current “Clean for the Queen” project can only benefit hedgehogs. Litter can be death traps for them. The plastic drink cups, yogurt and ice-cream cartons, crisp packets indeed anything smelling of something edible will all attract hedgehogs and encourage them to put their heads somewhere that they cannot get out of. Plastic multi can holders, the handles of plastic bags, elastic bands and any type of netting can also cause problems. So if there is a scheme near you removing litter (why not join TUBS in Bishop's Stortford on their next litter pick), may help save a hedgehog’s life or indeed any other unfortunate creature that might get tangled up. Or why not like The Litter Challenge Facebook page and pledge to pick up three pieces of litter per day - as they say every little helps.   

Having said that do not be too tidy in your garden, do leave piles of leaves and small twigs in a pile for any local visiting hedgehog. Of course if a blackbird gets there first it will soon spread a pile of leaves over the garden in its search for food.

If you need advice or find a sick or injured hedgehog 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 web site alternately (to contact us visit our website for details.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Update on Derek The Hedgehog

Derek 6th Feb 2016
Over the last few months you may have noticed the story of  Derek the hedgehog and the sad loss of his spines. If you haven't where have you been? He's appeared in the national news including:

and the international news (and these aren't all of them):

This coverage and dealing with the press has had it's highs and it's lows. However I won't bore you with this here. But what I do want to do is thank the hedgehog rescue community and British Hedgehog Preservation  Society for the tips and advice we have received.  

Derek 30th March 2016

Thankfully Derek's spines are now growing back, so I wanted to share the suggestions, advice and the treatment Derek has received from the fantastic Monique. I'm sharing in the hopes that if any other rescue centre has the same problem it will give them somewhere to start.

So here goes...

Firstly before you undertake any treatment ensure the spine lose is not down to the usual suspects e.g. ringworm, mange mites etc. Once you have ruled these out then the suggestions we've received for treatment have included:

  • Keep warm, safe and as stress free as possible
  • Give supplements. Suggestions have included  Zinc, B6, Magnesium and multi-vits (Abidec baby vitamin drops)
  • Occasional baths with Oilatum
  • Evening primrose oil capsule (daily - either squeezed onto skin or placed onto food) 
  • Brush the skin daily with a soft toothbrush to stimulate circulation and hair follicles (we've used a shaving brush in the past when giving baths)   
  • Some hydrotherapy (swimming in a bath) for exercise
  • Contact with the opposite gender to stimulate hormones
I'm not advocating you do all of these at the same time. However I'm told it would appear some of these have worked for similar cases. So choose what you are able to do and with fingers crossed you'll see some positive results.   
The treatment Derek has received and is still receiving from Monique is:
  • Firstly and most importantly I was taken out of the equation. The treatment Derek had received to cure his badly infected wound meant I loved Derek but he hated me. 
  • A large 5' x 7' enclosed heated area was created for Derek with his own indoor garden area which allows he to 'be' a hedgehog.
  • Stress has been kept to a minimum for example Monique never invades his sleeping area, so this gives him somewhere he can feel 100% safe.  
  • A good diet: mealworms, tinned dog food, sun flower seeds and a pinch of Avipro (prebiotic with vitamins) every night plus the garden area is refreshed every day with insects and worms (no slugs or snails as these can carry lungworm).
  • A massage using raw organic coconut oil has been applied to his back, about three times a week. It is believed the caprylic acid in the coconut oil is a natural anti-fungal, so if an overgrowth of yeast was the problem it would help.
Within a couple of weeks of the coconut oil being applied Monique noted a roughness to Derek's skin and when she used a magnifying glass she saw tiny points emerging from his skin. Just three days later it became apparent these were spines!   

Now Derek has a long way to go. But the signs are good and we are hopeful he will be returned to the wild at some point during the summer.

I'd like to thank the following for their suggestions for treatment:
  • Moira (aka The Hedgehog Lady, North Tyneside)
  • David and Fran (Royston)
  • Briony (Cleveland Hedgehogs)
  • Janet Peto
  • Shirley Carpenter
  • Jane Morgan
I do hope I've not missed anyone - if I have I apologise. 

I will keep you updated on Derek's progress and please feel free to send the link to this blog to anyone who cares for hedgehogs. You never know when they may have a similar case.   

P.S. Please respect the copyright of the images on this blog post and contact us first for permission before you use.