My Wild Life CA­ROLE DEUTEN

THE RE­TIRED SCHOOL SEC­RE­TARY AND CARER RUNS THE HELP A HEDGE­HOG HOS­PI­TAL IN KINGS STAN­LEY

Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD COUNTRYSIDE -

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.

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