Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spring is almost here!

Now we're into March already and the hibernating hedgehogs should be waking up soon! In fact, this winter has been so mild that many hogs have not hibernated at all. Many have been found out and about during the winter, and people have been kind enough to pick them up and pass them onto us for care. Most of these have been very underweight and hungry, as although the weather has not been cold, their natural diet of worms and beetles is very hard to find. Sadly many will have perished in areas that have suffered flooding, which makes the work of rescues such as ours even more important to help keep this endearing little creature safe from extinction.

More than 170 hogs have spent the winter in our care – most of these were “autumn juveniles” born at the end of the summer, too late to put on sufficient fat reserves to survive the winter. Those weighing less than 500 gms are unlikely to survive without care, and a safer weight margin is 600gms. So if you see a hedgehog in the early spring, it is likely to have lost weight during the winter and need some extra food to boost its chances of a successful breeding season.

Talking of food in particular generates litter....... which is a danger to all wildlife but items such as MacFlurry lids, and Krushems cups – the sort with a hole in the dome -shaped lid can be lethal, as we found a few days ago. An otherwise healthy hedgehog had to be put to sleep because of the injuries caused when it tried to escape from one of these lids which was round its neck. Please don't leave these things lying around.

We will be starting our release programme in April – I hope you have had a chance to see the window display at the Stroud Valleys Project shop – the map boards indicate where the “hotspots” for hogs are, and also the many areas where hedgehogs appear to be absent. There are many reasons why some areas seem devoid of hedgehogs – including unsuitable habitat, loss of hedgerows and a high badger population: badgers can and do eat hedgehogs if other natural food is in short supply.

For more information, emergency numbers, or to book a talk for your group or school – please see our website

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