WIRRAL HEDGEHOG RESCUE
Caroline Howe has been rescuing and rehabilitating hedgehogs for eight years now, having started with one she came upon in the street. Before long, as news of her rescues became known, that one became 18, in her house on the Wirral.
Over time, much expansion has taken place, into three garden sheds. There are now 124 hedgehogs, half of whom were still in hibernation when I visited on March 14. Caroline has learned on the job, attending courses, doing her own research and, now helped by a rota of 3 volunteers, is amazingly competent to deal not only with all the day to day work so many creatures require, but in health-checking and treating any patients. Caroline even examines and identifies parasites under a microscope.
This year has seen a huge increase in hedgehogs needing care. A very wet summer, though favourable to the incidence of slugs and snails, a large part of a hedgehog’s diet, brings with it the associated lungworm and capillaria, which can be fatal.
Baby hedgehogs may be found in autumn born too late, too malnourished and dehydrated to hibernate, so they need constant care on heat pads to survive.
The dangers hedgehogs face these days are well known and numerous – destruction of their environment by paving and too-tidy gardening, hedgehog-proof fencing, accidents on the road or caused by garden strimmers, use of pesticides.
A hedgehog out in the daytime is in trouble and should be taken to a knowledgeable vet or wildlife rescue – search for these on the internet, or contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society:
Some residents who were awake at the time of my visit:
Hope was found with appalling injuries to her face and neck and was being eaten alive by maggots. If a vet had been available, Caroline would have asked for the animal to be put to sleep. Since there was not, Caroline removed all the maggots herself, treated Hope, and against all the odds, Hope has survived.
Harriet was found as a baby seven years ago, having possibly been attacked, again on her face. She is a permanent resident at the rescue, as she was too badly hurt to be released.
Berry, on the other hand, is very active and raring to go. As soon as the weather improves a bit, she will go into a garden pen, then progress to a friend’s bigger garden, and then be released as near as possible to where she was found.
Caroline has a 99% success rate with the hedgehogs.
You can visit the Hedgehogs’ Facebook page at: