Earlier this year, Tracy and I chatted about how many hedgehogs we could accommodate over winter this year, and decided that we had room for no more than 25, and that as we had funded the operation 100% by ourselves (up until now), that was the maximum number we could afford to house, feed etc.
How did that go? – Not so great, we currently have 83 hedgehogs in our care! There are pet carriers and cages all over the house, and rabbit hutches and pens in the garden with hibernating hogs in too.
This year, several local hedgehog rescues were turning away hogs as they were full, we decided we could not do that, which is how we came to have so many – we took 33 in over a long weekend alone!
I suppose it was about the end of October, start of November that we decided we had to ask for donations, as we were in danger of not being able to continue the work due to lack of funds. 83 hedgehogs eating around 100g of food each per day soon racks up the feed bill!
We have had donations of food and other supplies by well wishers, some of whom have donated several times. We also had 150kg of hedgehog food donated by a local wildlife group, Wildlife in Need, who have been great supporters of our efforts, including volunteers collecting and delivering hogs to us.
We have regularly taken hogs in for 5 different Vet practices, and the odd 1 or 2 from others in the area, but most have come from the general public.
We did not have a web presence until this autumn, when I created a Facebook page, and then this website, which I co-host with my Beekeeping website to keep the cost down.
I also decided that it was time we ditched the paper records, and started keeping records on a computer. This has had many benefits, where the entire record for one hog can be seen at once, instead of leafing through reams of paper for example. The program I use also provides reminders, medical records and can do stock control and accounts if needed. I installed the program in October, and we have kept all our records on computer since then. I also transferred all information from paper records dating back to 1st July 2018, meaning we have the records for the second half of the year on computer.
The program also allows us to pull out statistics;
42.5% of the hogs we have seen (since 1st July 2018) were Female, 57.5% were Male.
We have had to euthanise 6 hedgehogs, mostly due to either missing or damaged legs, or respiratory infection. Hedgehogs can do without one rear leg, but missing front legs means they cannot get about too well, and cannot dig for worms, grubs etc and therefore may suffer a linger death due to starvation, so best practice is to euthanise for missing front limbs.
9 hedgehogs died while in our care, this figure is high because I have included the DOA’s in this figure. It means that our figures look a bit ‘off” but also means we are recording all deaths.
We have some hogs that cannot be released back to the wild because of injury, these will be released into protected, enclosed gardens where the hogs can live a natural as possible life without being released to the wild. It also means they can be supplement fed, and can be kept under a watchful eye in case of any problems.
Our release to wild rate for the year was 82.5%, which I don’t think is bad at all, this does not include the 83 hogs we currently have in our care, of which I think 77 or 78 will be going back to the wild.
For the year ahead, we are going to look at how we are organised, and make better preparations. We could easily have coped with the 25 hogs we said we would limit ourselves too, but it is an entirely different matter with the high numbers (for us) we ended up with.
The main consideration will be room, or the lack of, to keep the hedgehogs in, so we will have to look at a very large shed or garden building for the bulk of the operation. The problem again is the cost, a basic 14 x 8 shed is in the region of £1000, we then have to insulate and line it, provide heat and power, racking, cages etc to fit it out. We will have to go cap in hand to see where we can raise the funds required to do this.
We have a portable incubator on pre-order, and it will be delivered some time in late February when they are released, we also have a Go Fund Me page set up to raise funds for an ICU / Recovery unit for hedgehogs.
It’s been hard work this year, and no small amount of tears being shed too (Tracy!) when we have had to make the decision to euthanise, or when a hog died, but in the end, well worth it for the number of hogs that would almost certainly have died over the course of the winter had we not taken them in. Hedgehogs are such fun, characterful little creatures, and quite often put us in mind of naughty little boys!
To finish this rather long post, I’d like to say thank you once again to the lovely people who have donated food and supplies, and for donating toward our fundraising efforts. We will see what the new year brings, and make preparations for the influx of Spring babies, poorly and injured hogs that we expect from about March onwards, weather dependant!
Please like our facebook page, follow us here, or on Twitter and share our posts to raise awareness of the plight of these spikey little creatures that could soon disappear from our Towns and Countryside due to pesticides, slug pellets, strimmers, bonfires and other man made problems.