As Secretary to the Trust I’m mostly sitting in front of a laptop, only occasionally helping with rescues and rehabilitation, but recently I perhaps stupidly offered to help Pat on a day’s cleaning out duties. The ever present David and Kay were there to show me the ropes as I got up close and personal with around 20 young hedgehogs, helping to weigh, feed and clean out their temporary homes.
The first thing you notice is that they are very mucky, trampling in their food and pooing everywhere, even up the walls of the wire fronted plastic boxes. So it’s a bit of a dirty job. First find the hog, probably hiding under the towel that is used as a nest and then scoop it up in gloved hands trying not to drop it on the way to the scales, where its weight is carefully noted. It is then put in a spare box to stop it scampering off as they can move pretty fast. The towel nests are sent to our heavily used washing machine each day. Then newspaper flooring is removed and the box gets a serious clean up with disinfectant solution. It’s handy that I’ve got little sense of smell for this part of the procedure! Then new paper goes in with a fresh towel.
Now for the food. Dog meat (a non fishy variety) is the main ingredient, plus mealworms and sometimes sultanas. That’s as close as we can get to a proper hedgehog diet and it’s surprising just how much these growing hogs can eat. Once the hog is returned to its home it will probably go for the mealworms first as this seems to be a favourite treat. A careful record of each hog’s progress is made on it’s record sheet, with different colours for weight gain or loss. Kay has her own procedure for dealing with those who fail to put on weight. She talks to them in the nicest possible way about the benefits of growing to a good healthy weight. I don’t know how well this works.
Some of these hedgehogs will not get up to weight and will have to spend the whole winter inside, so that’s a lot of work for our regular volunteers, to say nothing of all our other patients. As for me, I think I’ll get back to the laptop. Pat will be back writing next week.
Should you find an animal in need of our services, or if you need advice please phone H.Q. on (01289) 302882. We are happy to help, or visit our website www.swan-trust.org.
The Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust is a registered charity in England No. 1064805.