My Wild Life CAROLE DEUTEN
THE RETIRED SCHOOL SECRETARY AND CARER RUNS THE HELP A HEDGEHOG HOSPITAL IN KINGS STANLEY
November is a busy month for Help a Hedgehog Hospital. We receive a lot of animals that haven’t reached the ideal weight for hibernation – ideally above 600g – and look after them throughout the winter before releasing them the following year. After the hot summer there’s a strong possibility that mothers had two litters, with some likely to be underweight. At the same time many suffered from a lack of food during the drought, with the ground too dry and hard to dig for worms.
Parasitic worms are another problem and often cause hedgehogs to be seen during the day.
We get hedgehogs that have been injured by strimmers or received burns from bonfires, so we try and raise awareness of the importance of checking overgrown areas for hibernating animals and moving heaps of plant material before setting them alight. Dog attacks are common and we see an awful lot of hedgehogs that have been hit by cars; drivers don’t seem to realise that hedgehogs won’t move if they see a car coming, they freeze in the headlights. We urge people to think of hedgehogs when they’re setting rat traps or putting down poisons – rodents climb but hedgehogs don’t. Slug pellets are another hazard, both on their own and when they’ve been ingested by molluscs, as are ponds, goal nets and things like the plastic rings that hold together drinks cans.
Underweight and injured hedgehogs need heat, food and water: we give them dog and cat food, but they are lactose intolerant, so the days of putting out bread and milk for them are long past. They also like to have plenty of nesting material, for which my paper shredder comes in handy
I’ve always loved wildlife and I’m passionate about hedgehogs, which l look after 24/7. I’m a member of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and have been involved with the Help a Hedgehog Hospital since 2010. I did a basic hedgehog first aid course, but a lot of what we do is down to experience. I operate from my garage, which has been specially adapted for the purpose, and work closely with a network of other volunteers and organisations such as Vale Wildlife Rescue and Oak and Furrow.
Hedgehogs are having a tough time and it’s great to feel I’m making a difference. The Help a Hedgehog charity celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, in which time we’ve helped thousands of animals.