Help out hedgehogs in Blackpool this autumn

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Blackpool wildlife rescues have called on people to keep an eye out for Britain’s best loved wild animal, the humble hedgehog, as hundreds of ‘autumn juveniles’ face potential starvation during the winter months.

 

Hedgehogs face a multitude of challenges during the autumn months

Hedgehogs face a multitude of challenges during the autumn months

Autumn is a particularly difficult time of year for hedgehogs, as many hoglets born in the late summer struggle to fatten up enough to survive hiberation.

Meanwhile, with Bonfire Night fast approaching, some hogs may seek shelter inside bonfires – which are then set alight, with tragic results.

Mel Greenhalgh, who runs Brambles Wildlife Rescue in South Shore, said: “At the moment, the lack of food is a particular problem. As winter approaches there is less food for wildlife, and so hedgehogs are mostly eating slugs and snails which are more likely to carry parasites. All of the hedgehogs we’ve had in the past three months have had roundworm. I think it’s harder this year than any other year we’ve had.

“Late-born juveniles that haven’t reached a healthy weight for hiberation are at risk of starving to death. We’re not in hibernation season just yet so there’s a little more time, but if a hedgehog hasn’t reached a healthy weight in four weeks’ time, that’s it. It will have to be kept in a rescue over the winter and released in the spring.”

Viv Critchley, of Blackpool Hedgehog Rescue on St Annes Road, said: “This time of year, hedgehogs are often hidden under leaves and a lot of them end up being found by dogs or scooped up by accident, and if those leaves are burned the hedgehog burns with it. Bonfires shouldn’t be built until the day they’re going to be burned, because a hedgehog is likely to crawl in because it’s a nice, warm, cosy den.

“Looking after hedgehogs this time of year is really a labour of love, with constant feeding. The rescue has a few autumn juveniles, and they need feeding every two hours. The really small ones that come in are no bigger than a golf ball, but the juveniles are usually about the size of a tennis ball. They all need a helping hand, because a lot of them will be underweight by hibernation.

“If they are still underweight by winter, they will be kept in.”

Anyone who sees a hedgehog wandering around in daylight hours is encouraged to get in touch with a wildlife rescue, as these creatures are noctural, and venturing into sunlight is a sign that something is seriously wrong.

Mel said: “Any hedgehog that’s out in the day needs to be taken to a rescue, at the very least, to be checked over. I have never had a hedgehog brought in that I thought was perfectly healthy.

“Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, so really you should never see them. If they’re out in the daylight, they’re in trouble.”

HOW CAN YOU HELP HEDGEHOGS IN YOUR GARDEN?

1. Create a ‘hedgehog highway’ by making a hole in your fence, allowing hedgehogs freedom to roam

2. Plant natural wildlife and hedges where they can nest and forage, or buy a ‘hedgehog house’ where they can shelter

3. Place a ramp or stones around the edges of your pond if you have one, so hedgehogs don’t drown if they fall in

4. Put down meat-based dog or cat food – not bread and milk, which can dehydrate a hedgehog. Avoid slug pellets and other poisons which can prove lethal.

5. Check carefully before strimming or lighting bonfires