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Saving the Hedgehog

If we do not do anything to stop the decline of the hedgehog, they will be extinct by 2025. Paula Garner knew she had to do something, so three years ago she set up a hedgehog rescue scheme and, a year ago, she was joined by Bethany Murray. At the moment, Paula has six hedgehogs in her home and Bethany has five, with a sixth hibernating in the garden. The scheme has grown so much that they get calls from as far away as Grantham and Lincoln and they now have about twenty foster carers looking after these delightful creatures.

The scheme goes by the name of Barrow Hedgehog Rescue and can be found on Facebook. Their aim is to take in injured or ill animals, treat and care for them until they can be returned to the wild. The charity exists solely on donations and many times the cost of food and vet bills comes out of their own pockets. Hedgehogs are normally nocturnal animals, so if one is seen in the day it often means it is ill and needs checking over. The exception to the rule is if there are babies to be fed; then mum may been seen out and about looking for food.

Milk should never be given to a hedgehog. Paula and Bethany have had a case where a hog died because it had been given milk. All of the animals in care are given names and I was privileged to meet River, who is too small to hibernate, so is being cared for until she is up to the correct weight. Then there is Dave, a large fellow who was found in the road near to County Hall. He had a head injury, suggesting he had been hit by a car, had over thirty ticks on his body and lungworm. In theory he should have been dead! Dave was very anaemic due to the ticks, which Paula pulled off by hand. He was given antibiotics and also injections to rid him of the lungworm, so it was a rather expensive time. Lungworm is normally found in cows and sheep. I am pleased to say Dave is making an excellent recovery.

Another problem was finding enough newspapers to use as bedding, but the Loughborough Echo has come to the rescue. Once a fortnight they deliver unwanted papers to them, but they can never have too many. One hedgehog, named Mowgli, cannot have shredded paper for bedding, so there is the added expense of buying Ecobale at £6 a time. At present, there is a very exciting development taking place as Paula and Bethany are joining forces with Bug Utopia at Rutland Water. They will be taking two hedgehogs over there (ones that cannot be returned to the wild) to use for educational purposes and hopefully for breeding. To spread the word of their important work, Paula has given talks in schools and to Brownie groups, and is more than happy to visit any group that is interested.

Barrow Hedgehog Rescue desperately needs your help, so please donate in any way you can. They do not want money sent directly to them, but would appreciate it if you could put some onto their account with the vets at Chine House in Sileby, or alternatively donate food. Whilst I was with Paula and Bethany, I was shown a huge hairy tarantula that Paula had won in a raffle! But that is a story for another time.

Val Gillings