Three orphaned baby hedgehogs have been returned to the wild after two months of rehabilitation and care, including being hand-reared by RSPCA officers when they were only days old.
RSPCA Cymru took the hoglets into their care after their nest in Tavernspite in Pembrokeshire was accidentally disturbed. The tiny babies were left in situ for some time in the hope their mother would return – but sadly, she never did.
The hoglets came into the RSPCA’s care on 8 June, and the three boys weighed just a combined 89 grams at the time – tipping the scales at 27g, 30g and 32g respectively.
Hand-rearing was crucial to their survival – and the trio were initially fed electrolyte fluids from a syringe by RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben. They were then moved onto a special milk formula they were given every two hours – including, initially, overnight.
The hogs – once weaned – were transferred to Gower Bird Hospital for further rehabilitation and care, before they were big and strong enough to be returned to the wild on 3 August – almost two months after first coming into the RSPCA’s care.
ACO West: “These poor hoglets were found in a desperate situation – as without their mother, they’d have had zero chance of survival.
“Fortunately, we became aware of their plight and took them into our care. I’ve helped care for many different species of orphaned wildlife – but these hoglets were particularly special.
“Weighing as little as 27 grams, these hogs needed plenty of care – and feeding them every two hours was exhausting, but well worth the end result.
“After a period of time with Gower Bird Hospital, we were able to return these wonderful animals to where they belong – the wild. The family who had first found the distrubed nest were able to safely witness the release too – which was a really lovely moment.”
Gower Bird Hospital has fitted the hoglets with coloured markers on their spines, so they can be identified should the hospital or the RSPCA deal with them again.
Hedgehogs typically give birth between June and July, and can have another nest of hoglets around September or October time. They sleep in a daynest and overwinter in a special nest called a hibernaculum. Extra care should be taken when gardening to avoid disturbing hedgehogs, and other wildlife, with preferential nest locations being thick undergrowth, under or in sheds, and in piles of leaves, logs or compost heaps. Bonfires should also always be checked for nesting hedgehogs before lighting them. If you do accidentally disturb a hedgehog whilst gardening, if possible re-cover them with their nesting material and leave them alone.
RSPCA officers have remained on the frontline throughout the coronavirus pandemic responding to emergencies. Should you wish to help this work, you can donate online.