Inside the rescue centre giving endangered hedgehogs a helping hand
Staff at Freshfields Animal Rescue also hand-rear many young hoglets.
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Hedgehogs are now endangered. Changes in rural and urban habits have had a huge effect on the population. Ten years ago, their numbers were thought to be around sixty million, currently, there are about 1.5 million left in the UK.
Each year, Freshfields Animal Rescue in Sefton, Merseyside, cares for approximately 500 hedgehogs suffering from an array of ailments. Staff at the centre also hand-rear many young hoglets, taking them home each evening whilst they are vulnerable and requiring additional feeds and warmth.
Meghan Hill, Small Animal and Wildlife Carer at Freshfields told LiverpoolWorld: “At the moment we have 83 hedgehogs. Typically throughout the years it can range from 75 to over 100. We work to rescue, rehabilitate and the release hedgehogs throughout the Liverpool and Sefton area. The main goal is to help them and get them back out to live the lives they’re supposed to.”
Many hedgehogs are victims of road traffic accidents; some suffer burns in bonfires, while many are injured by strimmers, mowers and other garden implements. Hedgehogs also suffer from many diseases and infections, which can prove fatal if left untreated.
All hedgehogs are treated by a vet throughout their stay at Freshfields and remain at the shelter until they are healthy and are large enough to successfully hibernate. Many underweight hedgehogs are overwintered and kept warm to prevent hibernation. Once the ideal weight has been reached, hedgehogs are placed in outdoor runs to acclimatise before being released back into the wild.
The decline in the species has been swift, and if action isn’t taken, we could lose these fascinating creatures for good.
What to do if you spot a hedgehog:
- If a hedgehog is seen wandering around in the daylight, this is an indicator that something is seriously wrong, as they are nocturnal mammals.
- If an injured or vulnerable hedgehog is found, contact a wildlife rescue for advice.
- If you are feeding hedgehogs in the wild or temporarily, never provide milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Cat or dog food and cat/dog biscuits are ideal.
Watch the video at the top of the page for our full feature on Freshfields Animal Rescue and their crucial work with hedgehogs.