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). 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Year That Was 2017

2017 was a year of successes and a year of frustrations. So, I wanted to share with you some of the highs and a lows. So here goes!

Our volunteers and supporters 
As always without the physical help and the generous support of the local vets and our supporters I'd never be able to do the work with the hedgehogs that I do. So thank you to the following vets for their continued support:

One of the many lovely paths
in Birchanger Woods

  • Elaine - for taking on our latest disabled hedgehog
  • Monique - for stepping in to take hedgehogs when we couldn't
  • Rob and Di, Maddi and Helen - for being fab fosterers
  • Michelle, Jayne, Michelle, Anne and Phil - for taking on the care and release of our successes
  • Pat from Mutts in Distress for your support and supply of towels.
  • Karen for running a quiz night for us and raising a staggering amount!
  • Pat (warden of Birchanger Woods) - for your continued care of our two disabled hedgehogs and  allowing us to use the woods as a release  site 

AND everyone who kindly and generously donated either much needed supplies or cash!

Stats - calls
The shed after its revamp

I never keep a log of the phone calls I take but I'm guessing it's in the low hundreds. However, I've taken more calls this year from outside the area we cover. For example I've spoken not only to those local to us but also people in Watford, Hatfield, Luton plus a few from the other side of London.

Stats - costs
Last year was an expensive year with our paid for outgoings of just over £1,600. This figure doesn't include the generous donations that were paid directly into our local vets to cover vet bills (this was a couple of hundred - so THANK YOU). However, it does include the purchase of a lovely new hutch and run and the revamp of the shed (both we were only able to do because of all those lovely people who came along to the quiz night organised by the even more lovely Karen). I've just completed the end of year books and we're in credit! It may be just under £10 but we've covered all our bills for 2017 - so I'm a very happy hog carer (because that doesn't happen often).        

Stats - Hedgehogs
Since keeping records (prior to the year 2000 I didn't bother) we've had 761 hedgehogs come to stay in the hedgehog shed. This year we took in and cared for 42 hedgehogs (I only count those who come into the shed, not those who sadly didn't make it to us because they died at the vets). Of those 42, 19 survived and 23 died. Unfortunately the high mortality rate this year was because of the salmonella outbreak. It was perhaps one of the hardest times I've had to go through with the hedgehogs.  

Came in around 75 grams each.
That's a 50p next to them!
Ending on a high
Although part of this year was the hardest it's always outweighed by the successes and without a doubt these six little bundles of cuteness were that success. Sadly their mother died but the person who found them acted quickly and got them to us whilst they were still in good health. It may have taken a lot of late nights and a lot of very early mornings but all six survived and were released in late summer. Their survival is also due to the  wonderful 'day care' service provided by everyone at the A120 Medivet. I wouldn't have been able to juggle caring for them and keeping down a day job without that support.

Your continued support
Just before Christmas I was informed by Waitrose in Bishop's Stortford that we're in their blue token charity pot for January. So if you shop in Waitrose or know someone who does please do pop that blue token in our slot.

Lastly THANK YOU for your support during 2017 - it is appreciated more than you'll ever know.