Paradise Wildlife Park (PWP), Zoological Society of Hertfordshire (ZSH/ Charity No.1108609) has teamed up with SWCC Hedgehog Hospital to help rehabilitate and release rescued hedgehogs back to the wild.
The SWCC Hedgehog Hospital takes in sick and injured hedgehogs, caring for them and providing medical treatment to bring them back to full health, before releasing them back into the wild.
The Hospital was founded 25 years ago by Rebecca Willers who runs Shepreth Wildlife Park, it aims to help care for sick and injured hedgehogs as well as striving to conserve the hedgehog population and educate the public on how to help these animals and what to do if they find one.
Both ZSH and SWCC Hedgehog Hospital help to design and create enriching wildlife habitat and enclosures. Understanding what is happening to our native wildlife is vital so assistance with research and monitoring is provided to determine what support is needed to successfully release wildlife back to the wild.
The SWCC Hedgehog Hospital was looking for more facilities to help re-introduce their rescued hedgehogs back to the wild, so James Cork, HeadKeeper at Paradise Wildlife Park, hand built rehabilitation pens and headed up a rehab programme from Paradise Wildlife Park.
Four juvenile female hedgehogs called Belle, Lucy, Cricket and Charlotte are the first hedgehogs to benefit from the release programme. Belle and Lucy will live together, with Cricket and Charlotte living ‘next door’!
They will all spend 2 weeks in the rehabilitation pens, being prepared for outdoor conditions. Then they’ll be released and, if they don’t return to the pens within a week of being released, we’ll know they have settled successfully in the wild.
Every 4 weeks ZSH is looking to release six more recued hedgehogs back to the wild.
The SWCC Hedgehog Hospital has taken in 650 rescued hedgehog in the past year alone. Currently they are looking after 150 hedgehogs, with only space for 100 in the hospital. As a result, the Hospital volunteers and staff are taking some of the rescuees home.
Hedgehog Hospital Founder, Rebecca Willers, said: “Because funds and space in the Hospital are limited, some of our carers even generously look after hedgehogs in their own back gardens and homes. We regularly conduct release site checks to maintain a list of gardens that are hog friendly so we can release hedgehogs safely and know they’ll be fed and kept an eye on.”
Some of the rescues sadly suffer from blindness, amputation or parasitic complications and these hedgehogs unfortunately cannot be re-released back into the wild. Instead, they are re-homed in appropriate secure areas where they can live under the watch of hedgehog carers in as naturalistic environments as possible.
Hedgehogs must eat roughly 100g of food a day to survive. At the Hospital they are fed jelly-based dog food and kitten biscuits. As part of the new programme at ZSH, they will be provided with a variety of insects to forage for to ensure they retain their natural behaviours.
Hedgehogs brought into the Hospital can weigh as little as 50g but after the care of the volunteers and staff they can grow up to 1.5kg fully grown. To be a part of the release programme the hedgehogs must weigh a minimum of 650g.
The four girls released today were rescued in August 2017 and weighed only 250g. After being looked after and rehabilitated at the Hospital, they all now weigh very healthy weights of between 700g to 750g and can now continue to grow up to a weight of 1.5kg.
PWP will be arranging a weekly update for the first month to provide information on how the hedgehogs and the release programme is progressing.
For any SWCC Hedgehog Hospital Enquiries or if you find an injured, sick or orphaned hedgehog then please call the Emergency Hospital Line on: 07505 651968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org