Baby wild European hedgehog hoglet
Helping hedgehogs

Hedgehog rehabilitation – my story

How I became a wild hedgehog rehabilitator and wildlife gardener.

I’m frequently asked how I started rescuing wild hedgehogs and wildlife gardening and why I became a crazy hedgehog lady…. so here goes!

The inspiration started way way way back. Here is my mum as a girl with a hedgehog in her garden. So it must always have been in my genes!

Mum with hedgehog as young girl
My mum as a young girl with a hedgehog

I remember camping trips with my parents where we would hear hedgehogs snuffling around outside the tent. We even fed them hedgehog flavour crisps – well it was the 1980s! I now know better and would never feed crisps or bread.

One of my first dates with my ex husband was to a hedgehog sanctuary in Devon. I got to hold a baby hedgehog and was smitten.

emma-and-hog-devon.jpg
Me in 2002 with a young hoglet at a Devon hedgehog sanctuary

When we relocated to York, I never expected to find hedgehogs in a city but I hoped and hoped. Then, one night, we came home to a hedgehog on the doorstep. I started feeding and watering them and more came. We soon had 7+ visiting every night.

It turns out that suburbia is one of the last and best refuges for hedgehogs.

After a few months, I spotted a hedgehog with a leaf on its back. I thought it was so cute that it had got a leaf stuck on its prickles. But I was wrong. Closer inspection revealed that the ‘leaf’ was green plastic netting from one of those fat balls that you feed to birds. The plastic was entangled all round the hedgehog.

I googled ‘hedgehog rescue york’ and found an amazing lady who has been rescuing hedgehogs for many years and it all started from there. I never knew until then about the plight of the hedgehog, how numbers were rapidly dwindling and how lucky I was to have them visiting my garden.

I have taken in more and more hedgehogs over the years as my skills and knowledge have grown. I started off looking after hedgehogs that had been treated for ailments but just needed fattening up for release. Then I started taking on poorly ones. I bought a microscope and joined lots of forums where hedgehog rescuers share knowledge and advice.

Studying poo under the microscope
Studying poo under the microscope

This is now my 8th year of hedgehog rescue and my success rate is around 80%. There are always hedgehogs that are found too late and are beyond help but I try my best with every hedgehog that arrives.

IMG_0977.JPG

One of the key reasons behind the decline in our wild hedgehogs is habitat loss – removal of hedges from the countryside and people stripping their back gardens of plants. Pesticide and herbicide use also affects hedgehogs. This led me to become a wildlife gardener, using my suburban garden as an example of how to create a wildlife haven in the city.

York wildlife garden and hedgehog haven

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story of how it all started. Like all other wildlife rescues, my work is entirely self-funded. Many people are surprised to hear that rescues receive no money from the Government or larger charities. We all fund our work ourselves and could not do it without your help. You can find out more about my work here and also how to support it.

My day job is public relations and I also use these skills to raise awareness of how people can help our wild hedgehogs. You can read some of my news articles and features here. I give talks and can also come and assess your wildlife garden or contact me for a range of other ways to collaborate.

The recognised hedgehog course for hedgehog rescues and vets is run by Vale Wildlife Hospital. You can find out more about their work and the one day course here.

I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise funds for the hedgehog hospital. You can visit my jewellery shop here.

If you’ve liked what you’ve read here and would like to learn more about hedgehogs and wildlife gardening, why not join me for one of my events.

Nature jewellery by Little Silver Hedgehog

9 thoughts on “Hedgehog rehabilitation – my story”

  1. Hi Heather, sadly I don’t actually own a wildlife cam but I have heard great things about the Aldi ones. Also a few people just bought the highest starred one on amazong and said they were good…. 🙂

  2. Can you recommend a camera so I can check if it’s a hedgehog ( or something else) eating my Spikeys food???
    Thank you.
    Heather.

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