Hedgehogs’ haven in Arthurs Point
Kind-hearted carer is part of nationwide network
They may be prickly on the outside but hedgehogs have a warm heart and need a little bit of lovin’ too, according to Queenstown’s head ‘hedgehog carer’, Ross Heywood. Mr Heywood is part of a national network of animal lovers who rescue abandoned baby hedgehogs, rear them, then release them back into the wild. It’s so good on Mr Heywood’s 6-hectare Arthurs Point property that some of his babies just never want to leave. ‘Harold’ is his most famous hedgehog. ‘‘I found him three years ago when he was 1 week old. I let him go at 6 weeks and he lives in the bush around our house. I put food out and he comes in. He likes cat food and bananas best.’’ Harold still comes inside for a needle-sharp smooch and likes to sit on Mr Heywood’s knee. It was Harold’s 3rd birthday in the first week of January and although he never goes far, Mr Heywood said he would never keep a hedgehog locked up as a pet because it was unfair. Harold, orphaned after a car ran over his mother, is gaining international notoriety. Mr Heywood was recently contacted by an American publishing company compiling a non-fiction children’s book on unusual pets. The publishers loved the photo of Mr Heywood sitting with his cat and baby hedgehog on his knee. ‘‘When I found Harold I found three babies and the next day two were dead.’’ Mr Heywood has rescued many baby hedgehogs during the years, so many that he’s become renowned in the south. He was contacted by Peg Loague, of Hedgehog Haven, a hedgehog rescue centre in Taupo, and made one of New Zealand’s official ‘hedgehog carers’. Baby hedgehogs require special care. ‘‘They’re are lactose intolerant. You can’t give them cow’s milk. I give them goat’s milk, mixed with Farex, in an eye dropper to kick them into gear.’’
Hedgehog hugs: This photo of Harold the hedgehog snuggled up with Eme the cat at their Arthurs Point home has won the pair international notoriety.