JAM JAR ARMY: Medicine is not an exact science

It is not always possible to cure or heal every hedgehog.
It is not always possible to cure or heal every hedgehog.

With the recent good weather, we have been able to return many of our hedgehogs back to the wild, which is always our aim, writes Carole Catchpole, of the Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust.

It was recently brought home to us just how much a challenge this success can be; a hedgehog was brought to us, obviously a juvenile born late in 2016, which had somehow managed to survive the winter, despite being so small.

Jam Jar Army

Jam Jar Army

The person asked if they could have the hedgehog back when recovered and up to weight, which is always the best situation as the hog would recognise its patch again.

I always point out we cannot guarantee a successful outcome in spite of the care and expertise we give and our greatest wish would be to return each and every one back to the wild in a healthy condition.

The person sadly had unrealistic expectations as our only guarantee is to do our best.

Our initial assessments include checking for external parasites, looking for broken limbs, checking for wounds, sniffing for infections followed by checking a faecal sample under the microscope for intestinal parasites.

We also have to recognise the stress involved which may have a major effect on the final outcome as these animals are not accustomed to captivity and this has to be factored into the equation.

We never know what will turn up at our door, but, in spite of the many challenges, the majority of hedgehogs do get a second chance.

Our first serious casualty of the year came about by my neighbour spotting a hedgehog walking on her lawn in a strange manner during daylight hours. Upon examination, we discovered she had a broken leg which will require amputation to be carried out by our vet and, once fully recovered, will be placed in a safe garden which has proved very successful with amputees over the years.

We’re optimistic of a good result, but medicine is never an exact science.