Wo­man saves hedge­hogs in Auck­land home

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - CATRIN OWEN

An Auck­land wo­man has set up a hedge­hog hospi­tal in her home, but ex­perts say the wild an­i­mals are pests and should be eu­thanised.

Monique Jones from Royal Oak has nine re­cov­er­ing hedge­hogs in her kitchen, from new­borns to adults.

Four years ago Jones found a sick one in her gar­den and called Hedge­hog Res­cue in Welling­ton.

‘‘Ev­ery time there’s a hedge­hog found in the area I get a phone call from Hedge­hog Res­cue in Welling­ton ask­ing to take it in,’’ she said.

Each hedge­hog pa­tient has a name. There’s Harry, Ringo, Brillo, Bubba and Blake. But Harry’s her favourite and is a bit of an es­cape artist.

Unitec as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in en­vi­ron­men­tal and an­i­mal sciences Nigel Adams said hedge­hogs should not be nursed back to health but ‘‘eu­thanised’’.

‘‘They will pre­date eggs and small chicks of ground nest­ing birds, in­sects in­clud­ing we­tas and other in­ver­te­brates, skinks and even pos­si­bly some na­tive frog species,’’ Adams said.

Jones said she fed the prickly crea­tures jelly meat and cat bis­cuits and it was al­most a full time job.

She takes them in when they’re sick and un­well, keeps them warm, de-worms them and treats them for mange, caused by mites.

‘‘They’re ready to go back out into the wild af­ter the weather gets warm,’’ she said.

DOC would not pro­vide com­ment but on its web­site said hedge­hogs posed a threat to na­tive weta, skinks and the eggs and chicks birds.

DOC es­ti­mated there were be­tween two and four hedge­hogs per hectare in New Zealand and of ground-nest­ing in some ar­eas as many as eight.

In mid-2009, DOC in­cluded hedge­hogs in a pest erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme on Ran­gi­toto and Mo­tu­tapu Is­lands.

How­ever, de­spite DOC’s stance Jones loves the lit­tle crea­tures and re­leases them back into the wild in One Tree Hill and other re­serves close by.

‘‘They will pre­date eggs and small chicks of ground nest­ing birds, in­sects in­clud­ing we­tas and other in­ver­te­brates, skinks and even pos­si­bly some na­tive frog species.’’

CATRIN OWEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Monique Jones has nursed Ringo the hedge­hog back to health in her Royal Oak home.

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