Reflecting on the past 12 months as everyone does at this time of year, 2016 has been extraordinary.
The number of hedgehogs needing our help this year was unprecedented. It would be easy to be optimistic and hope we are turning a corner in the decline of the hedgehog, but there must be more to it than that.
Perhaps the mild weather has encouraged more litters or perhaps it’s people’s awareness of the need to help these endangered animals.
Autumn stretched our resources enormously and this applied to rescues up and down the country according to reports. Many were forced to close their doors to new patients, but, in spite of the pressures placed on our resources, we managed to keep our promise of always helping any hedgehog in need and cared for all the ones brought to our attention.
People travelled from as far afield as Newcastle, County Durham and even Teesside in order to bring a hedgehog to us and get the professional help they needed.
The majority of hedgehogs from September onwards were second-litter hoglets who were too small and unlikely to successfully survive the winter. We have 120 here who will spend their time with us until they can be released in the spring.
Some hedgehogs haven’t yet gone into hibernation, but, if you see one out feeding during the hours of darkness and it weighs over 500g, it is best to leave it where it is as it will have its winter hibernaculum nearby and is perfectly capable of successfully hibernating when the time’s right. Supplementing their natural diet, which diminishes as the weather gets colder, will help enormously.
As we enter 2017 with a small number of our hedgehogs hibernating at the moment, we contemplate what this new year will bring. It’s never dull, that’s for sure.