For the past week we have had the pleasure of a special guest, to keep us company in the Denmark Farm office. A hedgehog rescue is not an everyday occurrence, but we were delighted to be able to help one prickly little creature.
‘Spike Bach’, as she has been fondly named, was first spotted wandering around our car park and in front of the Eco Lodge early last week. With an early spell of clear frosty nights, it is likely that her mam decided to go it alone and leave this very small hoglet to fend for herself. After being moved to a safer and more sheltered area of our 40 acre nature reserve, the hoglet was seen again in broad daylight for several days and appeared to be getting weaker and more and more disorientated.
Based on some research and helpful advice from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society we concluded that this youngster was in need of rescue. So we picked her up and put her in a box with a warm hot water bottle wrapped in towels and gave her meaty cat food to eat and a bowl of water. Providing young hoglets with additional warmth is very important, because they cannot feed if they get too cold. After a deep sleep for several hours, nestled in a pile of towels, the hoglet woke and started to feast. And the feasting then continued well for the following week.
Whilst Spike Bach began to enjoy life, we have been busy planning her future. A safe weight for a hedgehog to enter hibernation is 650g. Since our hoglet weighed only just over 230g we knew that we could not release her again before winter. All over the country there are teams of dedicated hedgehog carers who are trained to look after sick, injured and abandoned hedgehogs, helping them through the winter and finding safe release sites for them. Unfortunately though, Ceredigion is something of a black hole for hedgehog carers! Eventually we managed to get in touch with Carmarthen Bat and Hedgehog Rescue and they kindly agreed to take Spike Bach for us. The condition was that if and when she comes out of hibernation, she will be returned and released at Denmark Farm with at least two hedgehog companions.
After a week of hedgehog-sitting, we set out across the Cambrian Mountains to a particularly wild and picturesque part of Carmarthenshire to deliver Spike Bach to her winter home. We were greeted, upon arrival, by Katie, who checked the hoglet over, confirming that she is female and only around 4 weeks old. She was generally in good health but had worms, which is fairly common with hedgehogs. Katie was able to worm her straight away then put her into an isolation cage where she will remain for three days. Another much smaller hoglet in the next cage will be her companion when she is ready. It was reassuring to see the fantastic level of care given to all the lucky hedgehogs and hoglets at this special ‘Hogspital’.
Before we left, Katie told us that she had several fully grown hedgehogs urgently needing safe sites to be released in before the winter. And what better place than Denmark Farm? So, we are delighted to introduce Nelson and Bubba: two healthy males who accompanied us back through the hills to take up residence and add to the diversity of our lovely reserve.
The final happy chapter of this story occurred in a sheltered clearing in the Denmark Farm woodland. A wooden box filled with straw was positioned under some bushes and Nelson and Bubba were placed inside and left to come out and discover their new surroundings in their own time. In the spring we hope they will be joined by new friends, including Spike Bach, and will be the beginning of a thriving hedgehog colony at Denmark Farm.
8th November 2016: Brief Update From the Hedgehog Hospital
“Hi, Spike B is doing great! Had a weight check today and up to 550g (ish). So will definitely need to spend the winter in care, lucky hoggy 😛 Glad the others are doing well, thank you again for providing them with a home”
There is a small Hedgehog Hospital in Cardigan as follows:-