An RSPCA wildlife centre in Cheshire has had a record year in the number of hedgehog admissions, with more than 897 being treated at the centre in 2019*.
RSPCA Stapeley Grange, in Nantwich, has seen a 47% increase in the number of hedgehogs at the London Road centre since last year. (See table below for number of hedgehog admissions to Stapeley Grange since 2009.)
Lee Stewart, manager of Stapeley Grange, said: “The number of hedgehogs we have been caring for this year is incredible and when I last counted we have had 897 admitted this year.
“It’s an awful lot of work for our staff and volunteers to rehabilitate so many hedgehogs and the amount of dog food we are getting through to feed them is eye-watering!
“We want to make sure we do the very best for the hedgehogs that come into our care and get them fit and healthy enough to return back to the wild where they belong – we like to return them back to where they were rescued. Members of the public are usually delighted to have their prickly friends back and will often drive miles to pick them up themselves which is fantastic.
“We are always grateful to the public who show so much care and kindness to our wildlife.”
Most of the hedgehogs receiving care are usually cold, underweight, wobbly, dehydrated, collapsed and hungry when they arrive at the centre.
On arrival hedgehogs will be checked, weighed, given warmth either by a heat mat or a snuggle safe, food, antibiotics if needed and fluids if dehydrated. At this time of year all hedgehogs are dewormed too. As the hedgehogs put on weight they move from the centre’s ‘orphan room’ into individual holding bays. All the while they still require feeding, and their accommodation cleaned out.
If you find a sick hedgehog in the daytime, we would advise animal lovers to please give it warmth – a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel is ideal – and offer it pet food or scrambled egg straight away and bring them to the centre. If a hedgehog gets too cold, their chances of recovery reduces.
Healthy hedgehogs weighing over 500g should be left alone, but you can still provide supplementary food for them. If the weather is mild hedgehogs will naturally gain weight for hibernation and will be foraging for food overnight.
This is where the public can help – staff advise that you put a bowl of dog or cat food (not fish-based) out in your garden and help them gain weight for when the weather is cold enough for them to hibernate. Hedgehogs often wake up during hibernation when it is mild weather, forage for food and then go back to sleep once the temperature drops again. It is also important to give them easy access to fresh water, not milk
For more details on what to do if you find a sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs as well as how to help them in your garden, can be found on the RSPCA’s website.
Tips on keeping hedgehogs safe in the garden include:
If you are lighting a bonfire check inside the pile with a torch prior to lighting or move the bonfire to a new site then light
Remember to remove sports and fruit netting,
Cover drains and holes,
Check before using a strimmer or mower,
Look in compost heaps before forking over
Avoid using slug pellets as these are poisonous to hedgehogs.
To report concerns about an animal contact the RSPCA’s Hotline on 0300 1234 999.
This year is a big year for Stapeley Grange, as it’s the centre’s 25th anniversary. Over this time the team will have helped over 130,000 wild, domestic and exotic animals. You can follow Stapeley on Facebook RSPCAstapeleygrange or Twitter: @RSPCAstapeley or @StapeleyCats to find out what events are planned to celebrate this achievement. You can also sign up to the centre’s quarterly newsletter here: https://www.rspca.org.uk/stapeleynewsletter
*Figure is up to Monday 16 December 2019.