Octavia’s story – a hedgehog miracle!

Hedgehog ringworm mange treatment
Standard

I wanted to share this video with you all – Octavia’s story. She came into my hedgehog hospital as a tiny hoglet only 153g. She had a terrible infected bite wound. It took weeks to treat the injury. Then she lost all her fur and most of her spines due to ringworm. This is common when a hedgehog is run down or sick. It has been a long journey to recovery but she is now over 650g and ready for hibernation.

 

You can read more about Octavia’s injury was treated here.

UPDATE MAY 2018.

I am so proud to say that Octavia was released back to the wild on 6 May 2018. Stay safe miracle girl!

IMG_0632.JPG

Octavia upon her release in May 2018

IMG_0649.JPG

Octavia on release evening. See how well this side of her face (which was injured) has healed

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. My work is entirely self-funded. You can find out more about how to support my work here.

Advertisements

Treating a hedgehog with a strimmer injury

Hedgehog with strimmer injury
Standard

The sound of people people using a strimmer sets my teeth on edge. I hate them! They do so much damage to wildlife including hedgehogs, frogs and toads.

This is the story of Holly and her journey to recovery from a terrible strimmer wound. She was found at the end of July with her head sliced open, underneath a Holly bush. You can see from the pictures where the strimmer blade has cut deep into her head.

Holly is lucky – a few mm closer and the blade would have entered her skull.

When Holly was found, it was Summer and flies had laid eggs in the wound and hatched into maggots. These had to be painstakingly removed one by one and then the wound washed out with antimicrobial wound treatment and saline.

strimmer-injury-1

You can see where the blade has cut across Holly’s head

strimmer-injury-2

Flies had laid eggs in the open wound, which had hatched into maggots

Holly was put on a course of antibiotics and pain relief. The wound was cleaned daily to stop infection and a special wound gel was added to aid healing.

img_5427

Holly’s wound after around 10 days of treatment. It has scabbed over but needs cleaning daily to prevent infection.

Eventually, the wound healed and new spines started to grow through where the wound was.

strimmed-hedgehog-during-treatment

New spines starting to grow though – around a month after treatment started

img_5685

Holly fit and well and ready to go back to the wild.

Holly is incredibly lucky. Sadly, injuries like Holly’s are far from uncommon. Many hedgehogs are not so fortunate and strimmer and mowing injuries are a major cause of suffering and death. It also took me 6 weeks of intensive care to nurse her back to health. To help prevent injuries and suffering please:

  • Check all areas of long grass carefully before mowing or strimming. Hedgehogs nest in long grass.
  • Ideally keep areas of grass long for wildlife and don’t strim at all.
  • Encourage everyone you know to check before they mow – a simple check can save hedgehogs as well as frogs, toads and other wildlife that loves to nest or forage in long grass.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England and have nursed hundreds of hedgehogs back to health. You can find out more about my work here and also how to support it.

I am a member of many wild hedgehog rehabilitation forums and I also follow the Vale Wildlife Hospital protocols for treating hedgehogs. I don’t put detailed information on my pages about the treatments I use but, if you are a hedgehog rehabilitator and would like to know more or would like any help please contact me.

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

My blog is full of tips and advice on helping wild hedgehogs – please take a look around my other blog posts and see what you can do to help our spiky friends.

Save

Releasing rehabilitated hedgehogs back to the wild

Wild hedgehog in hedgehog box
Standard

How to release rehabilitated and over-wintered hedgehogs back to the wild.

I release hedgehogs back to the wild year round except for in the middle of Winter. To give the hedgehogs the best chance, here are some of the factors I bear in mind when releasing.

It has to be 5 degrees or above at night for at least 5 days in a row after release for them to be able to go. If it is too cold and frosty, there won’t be enough insects around for them to eat. I also avoid releasing when there is lots of rain forecast, especially torrential storms, – all the available nest sites may be too damp. In Spring, I take my cue from when the wild hedgehogs are up and about and being seen regularly in my garden. It is important to remember though that local conditions will vary, especially between the city and countryside.

Where possible, the hedgehogs are returned to where they came from. They will remember the area and the food sources and nest sites. They can be seriously disadvantaged by being relocated, especially if they were rescued as an adult. Sometimes this isn’t possible though if the area has dangers – for example, if a hedgehog has been attacked by a dog in the garden or if it was found in a pond where the finders will not provide an escape route. I have strict criteria for new sites.

To give them the best start back in the wild, the hedgehogs are all supported for at least the first few weeks. They are provided with food and water daily and they are given nest boxes filled with hay to give them shelter whilst they seek their own homes. This is particularly important if the hedgehog is going to a new area, because it will not be familiar with the best nesting sites.

Wild hedgehog in hedgehog box

Jemima peeking out of her release box on her release night. You can see the tiny nail varnish identification mark on her head.

It is a bittersweet time because they have been looked after for many months (the shortest stay in rescue is around a month) and I will miss them deeply but it is what hedgehog rescue is all about – getting them back to the wild to play their part in maintaining the wild population. Keeping them too long can cause them to get stressed, particularly males so, as soon as they are fit and well and the temperatures are okay, they are off!

You can read some other recent guidance on releasing over-wintered and rehabilitated hedgehogs back to the wild here.

People often ask me if rehabilitation is successful. Well, I mark them all with a tiny bit of nail varnish which should last at least 12 months. I only use the tiniest bit – sadly many people go overboard with marking hedgehogs – which can leave them vulnerable to predators. I only use green or blue nail varnish. I’ve known of people using red nail varnish but, because it looks like blood, the hedgehogs have ended up being ‘rescued’.

Hedgehog in garden

A rehabilitated wild hedgehog on release back to the wild

Over the 6 years I have been rescuing, I know that a couple of rehabilitated hedgehogs have had to come back into the rescue because their faded marks are still visible. Beyond the 12-18 months point though is unknown….

Good luck out there hedgehogs!

I run a hedgehog hospital in York – to support my work please visit Little Silver Hedgehog jewellery

Silver wildlife jewellery

Silver wildlife jewellery

Save

What to feed wild hedgehogs in your garden

Hedgehogs feeding in the garden
Standard

Hedgehog numbers are declining at an alarming rate, with there thought to be less than a million now left in the wild. Supplementary feeding is crucial to help them survive.

What do hedgehogs eat?

It is a myth that hedgehogs solely or mainly eat slugs. Whilst they do occasionally like to get their teeth into a juicy fat slug, they mainly eat insects, including beetles and caterpillars. Hedgehogs are also opportunistic and will eat a wide range of other foods including birds’ eggs and small dead animals like mice.

wild hedgehog diet

wild hedgehog diet

Too many slugs, snails and earthworms are bad for them as they carry lungworm and roundworm which, in large numbers, can cause hedgehogs to become very poorly and die.

One of the best things you can do to help hedgehogs find their favourite food sources is to grow a wide variety of shrubs and plants to attract insects. Also provide plenty of piles of old logs and other hidey holes for beetles.

Providing extra food and water helps to keep hedgehogs fit and healthy and to put on weight for hibernation. It also stops them resorting to worms and slugs. Supplementary feeding is particularly important in the Spring as hedgehogs are emerging hungry from hibernation and in the Autumn to help them get up to weight for Winter. Leave out a shallow bowl of water year round.

NEVER feed hedgehogs bread and milk. They are lactose intolerant and it can make them very ill.

Also avoid dried mealworms, peanuts and sunflower hearts – they can cause serious bone problems. You can find out more here. There is also a great article here that explains the reasons and busts the myths about some other foods that you can and can’t feed to hedgehogs.

Suitable hedgehog foods include:

  • Meaty cat or dog food (including gravy and fish flavours). I go for loaf varieties.
  • Cat or kitten biscuits
  • Specialist hedgehog food e.g. Spike’s or Ark Wildlife

11891528_866053960098972_1510544505999199004_o

Watching hedgehogs feeding is a popular pass time for all members of our family, including our cat Alfie!

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. You can find out more about my work here and also how to support it.

I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature to raise funds for my rescue work (which is entirely self funded). You can visit my jewellery shop here.

Silver wildlife jewellery

Silver wildlife jewellery