We are a wildlife hospital providing expert care and rehabilitation to sick, injured or orphaned wildlife casualties with the aim to release healthy wildlife back to their natural habitats, where they belong.
Patients at the hospital are constantly changing and we are now coming through our busiest summer season yet. During the summer we cared for over 2,000 seasonal casualties all needing around the clock care. It was truly a rewarding experience to see them grow up and develop from young babies into adults, many of these have now been released into suitable habitats. The freed-up space is now needed to house the impending influx of sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs. Many of these will need over-winter care and once healthy and up to a good weight, we will gradually release hundreds of these healthy hedgehogs back into suitable local habitats.
What is the fate of the beloved hedgehog?
The nation’s favourite wild mammal needs all the help it can get. Once a common sight in our gardens and countryside the hedgehog population has declined alarmingly.
This year sees the first publication of the Red List for British Mammals, which shows that UK hedgehogs are now classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’. The announcement comes from the Mammal Society, and states that one-quarter of native UK mammals are now at risk of extinction. While globally hedgehogs are of ‘least concern’, the UK’s population is now classed as ‘vulnerable’. In the past decade, we have lost over a half of rural hedgehogs and a third from towns and cities. This decline is not sustainable and it could mean that we lose our spikey friends for good. It is clear that UK hedgehogs are in real trouble.
Habitat loss and lack of food sources has had a massive negative impact on hedgehog numbers. Intensive agriculture, hedge removal, garden fencing, paving, decking, and poor plant life in gardens contributes to the loss of wildlife overall and reduces homes, highways, and food for hedgehogs.
However, there is some good news – local survey results are indicating that urban hedgehog numbers are beginning to increase. It is people who are making the difference by actively helping hedgehogs in small ways. Positive steps need to be taken to protect the habitats that the hedgehog needs to survive and ensure these habitats are thriving with healthy hedgehogs.
How do we care for hedgehogs?
We care for over 600 hedgehog patients each year with over 200 hedgehogs spending the winter with us. Many of our hedgehog patients are casualties from road traffic incidents, gardening and strimmer injuries and domestic pet attacks. Our highest admissions are hedgehogs that are weak, underweight or too small to survive their winter hibernation.
Once in our care, young or underweight hedgehogs need to be kept warm and secure, without their mothers to care for them they are kept in incubators and creches which have heated plates for them to sleep and hide under. When strong enough they move to an outside enclosure where they grow and develop their natural behaviour prior to being released back into their natural habitats.
Hedgehogs can often become host to a number of parasites such as ringworm, lungworm fleas and ticks. If treated quickly they do respond well to treatment and recover.
What difference do we make to wildlife?
Where possible we release rehabilitated wildlife back to their natural habitat as soon as they are fit and healthy where they may be part of a family group or territory. Our staff undergo vital training sessions to learn about animal handling, medical treatment, proper diet, species behaviours and release criteria. This gives wild animals the best chance of survival and helps to stabilise the local wildlife population and secure the future of some declining species.
The UK has very few specialised wildlife rehabilitation centres capable of providing the appropriate treatment and necessary care facilities to wildlife casualties. Being a well-respected source of wildlife care and knowledge for the local community, we aim to assist local RSPCA inspectors, wildlife police officers and veterinary clinics who are not always as well prepared to manage such a variety of wildlife casualties.
One of the main requirements of a healthy wildlife habitat is to protect at least a minimal number of wild animals so the population can increase. Each year our dedicated team aid hundreds of vulnerable hedgehogs with the aim to release healthy breeding pairs back into local habitats - helping to stabilise the local population and ensure the future of their species.
How can you help us to care for hedgehogs?
By becoming a hedgehog sponsor your support will help us provide care and rehabilitate to hundreds of hedgehog casualties and orphans to get them fit and well enough for release back into the wild. We release as many breeding pairs as possible to help secure the future of this at-risk species.
It costs an average £297 to over-winter a hedgehog, with an additional £50-£100 for medical treatment.
Your kind donation will support us with:
• Specialist milk formula • Flea treatments
• Antibiotics • Intensive care incubators
• Veterinary costs • Food and cleaning products
What is our story?
We started from humble beginnings in 1971 when our Founder, Dennis Fenter, began treating wild bird casualties in his back garden. Thanks to the support of a dedicated team of staff and volunteers spanning 50 years we have now grown our facilities, knowledge and expertise to treat over 125 different UK species. Our amazing volunteers help with a variety of tasks from animal care, administration, maintenance and retail - providing a vital network of support across the entire charity and helping individuals to develop transferable skills and gain confidence.
Our long-term vision is to become a wildlife hospital built for the 21st century providing the very best treatment and care facilities for our patients. We started our ambitious 5 stage redevelopment plan in 2016. To date, we have completed 12 bird of prey aviaries, 7 water pool enclosures and we are currently building 7 large mammal enclosures. To mark our 50th anniversary in 2021 we will begin fundraising for the next stage of our plan - to construct a patient quarantine building. The final stage will be to build a new modern hospital.