Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Hedgehog Awareness week May 3rd to the 9th

May 3rd to the 9th is Hedgehog Awareness week.
Back last December when I was suffering with a bout of the flu, Brian says come quick there is a hedgehog in the garden. I lay there saying I am ill and can't get out to look..... did you say a hedgehog??? They aren't supposed to be out during the day...... it is the middle of winter.... it should be hibernating!!! So I go outside with a bowl of cat food..... and plop it down in front of him.... Hmmmmm he really shouldn't be out now. So even through coughing and feeling weak I bring him in.... we find a box for him and some papers. I use a cat food box inside the cardboard box for his home and put some papers inside. Some cat food and some water and I then go online to the internet.

I have always loved hedgehogs from the moment I arrived here in the UK and found that they lived here. Wishing to see one and to actually have one in my spare bedroom!!!! Wow!!! Anyway, off to the internet and a site I have booked marked The British Hedgehog Preservation Society I read page after page and found I had done the right thing in bringing him inside. He would have died otherwise. They have information about food and all sorts on there. I also contacted two internet friends who are as much into wildlife as I am and one was a hedgehog carer. She sent me some lovely books about hedgehogs and how to look after them. And the other friend told me they should be at least 600grams for hibernating. Well this little chap was only 400.

So Tiggy came to live with us over the winter. And I studied as much as I could about these little guys. I found a really super friendly forum that is soooo helpful if you find yourself with a hedgehog and don't know what to do. The Hedgehog forum which was started by Derek who runs the Epping Forest Hedgehog Rescue. This is in the same county where we live so I knew if I needed help I had somewhere to go.
It has been a big learning experience having an overwintering hedgehog. Did you know that the old wives tales of feeding them bread and milk is totally wrong. The milk will give the poor little things diarrhea which isn't at all good for them. You should supplement their diets with cat biscuits or dog or cat food that has no fish in them. You can also feed them a commercial hedgehog food usually called Spikes Dinner or Spikes Relish. But I followed the various guides and made up my own food for Tiggy. Iam's cat biscuits, mealworms, some muesli, raisins and a crushed digestive biscuit. And also gave him some wet chicken cat food. You can also feed them boiled chicken which he loved!!! I did worry abit about him not having his natural food, but since he was supposed to be hibernating his natural food wasn't around anyway. They eat beetles and caterpillars mainly and other insects. They really shouldn't eat slugs, snails and worms, because these can give the poor little guys lungworms. Like I said I have learnt alot in a short time.
Healthwise, the forum folks suggested I worm him for the lungworms just in case, so I used Panacur for kittens. And they advised me on the dosage too. Other than three ticks the only other problem I could foresee, is a weight issue. I did try to give him some exercise and to give him a few other foods to try, like apple and kale and some carrots. But he wasn't over keen on those things. But it did add some interest to his home for a bit. He got up to over 1kg in weight and I was afraid he was getting too fat, but kept checking that he could curl up properly and he could.
Then came time for his soft release..... and he decided to sorta hibernate for a bit.... He did loose a little weight during this time. We built him a nice outside house and a pen for him to get used to being outside again.... And then I marked him so I knew who he was if he came back to our garden...So far he hasn't. But it is good to know that we did help this lovely little creature back into the wild and hopefully he will father lots of little hoglets. Hedgehogs are starting to disappear and there are predictions that by the year 2025 they will be almost extinct from the UK. So we all need to do something about it.
1. Please make your garden hedgehog friendly..... put out a place for them to sleep that is safe from predators(badgers, foxes, dogs and humans).
2. Put out additional food and water for them every night. Cat biscuits, chicken, hedgehog food and wet cat and dog food(no fish or pork products and definitely don't put out any MILK and Bread). And don't rely on them to eat the snails and slugs, they carry lungworm and also can poison the hogs via them eating slug pellets.
3. Make sure any ponds or holes are either covered up or that they can get out of them.
4. When driving please slow down!!! Hedgehogs tend to rollup rather than run out of the way. And by doing this they are killed by cars and trucks.
5. This one is very very important!!!! When out doing gardening work. Be careful!!!! Look for hedgehogs please!!! So before strimming or mowing or forking, please check that a hedgehog isn't there.
6. If you see a hedgehog out during the day and especially if it is a baby, Do something!!! Call a hedgehog carer or take them to a veterinary straight away. Don't leave them and then call as they will go off and possibly die. There is an exception and that is females who are trying to find food. So I think I would check to see if her teats are full then I would keep a close eye on her and give her some food. Never approach a nest as the mother will kill the babies if it is disturbed. If you find a nest and the mother doesn't appear, please get in touch with a carer ASAP. The BHPS carer's list or Derek's carers search engine or look in the yellow pages for a wildlife hospital.

This little guy is a new visitor to my feeding station and is the first one in my new Hog Log. A record I plan to keep of all visiting hogs. I am also planning on doing a hedgehog survey and will keep you all posted as to how I get on with that.
So if you are interested in these lovely little creatures and would like to find out more, please visit the following:

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