In recent weeks and with a huge influx of baby hedgehogs to our care (currently over 60) we are receiving requests by people who wish to take over the care of any hedgehogs that can not be released. To own them as “pets” in other words.
Out of more than 190 hedgehogs that have come into rehab with us since May this year, there is only one who can not be released into the wild again. Many have had serious injuries and chronic health problems, yet with the correct and appropriate treatment given by our rehabbers and our vet, most go on to regain their health and have already been released, or will be released next spring. The one who can not be released to the wild will live as natural a life as possible in a large secure garden, with supplement feeding. He will not be kept in a cage and handled like a pet. He is not and never will be a pet. He is a wild animal and as such it is illegal to take wildlife and handle them to the extent that they become over familiarised with human beings regardless of the severity of injury or illness. This is also against the whole ethos of wildlife rehabilitation and is detrimental to the welfare of the animal.
Both the BHPS and Vale Wildlife Rescue suggest that such “petted ” animals should be euthanised to avoid them living a life of distress – despite how they may appear to behave in captivity. Their words are – “no wild animal is ever truly happy or content living in a captive life and it is far better for the hedgehog’s welfare to be euthanised, than to spend a life of stress in a caged environment with regular handling or petting.”
We do not handle any wildlife in our care more than is absolutely necessary. They do NOT become tame, lose their instinct to fear humans or become “pets ” in any shape or form. Yes, of course we do feel an emotional attachment to each and every one, but only in as much as wanting to do the right thing for them to get well again and then go back where they belong in the wild.
Please understand we do not refuse the kind and well meaning offers to give homes to our hedgehogs for any other reason than the hogs welfare. They are not pets and never should or will be to us and no we do NOT do open days or handling events EVER for the reasons stated above.
Bless you all for your kindness and generosity in recent weeks in our hedgehog food appeal. This has meant we can continue to take in sick or underweight hedgehogs over the coming winter months. Particularly with babies too small to survive the winter, your generosity is quite literally helping save precious lives of a critically endangered species. Thank you! ??????
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