Hedge­hogs’ haven in Arthurs Point

Kind-hearted carer is part of na­tion­wide net­work

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By SUE FEA

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.

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