A tear was brought to rescuers' eyes when their hard work to save a mum and 4 baby hedgehogs was successful.
Volunteers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) were called out to check a female hedgehog and some baby hedgehogs found in a wooden store at the bottom of a garden in Nevil Road, Uckfield yesterday (30th May 2014). The residents were clearing various items and out from a rolled up tarpaulin fell a large hedgehog and some babies which dropped to the floor. Rescuers from WRAS attended on site and found mum huddled in the corner and some very young, lethargic and cold baby hedgehogs scattered around. The babies were on a cold bare concrete floor.
"Looking at mum's front feet we wonder if she was trapped and couldn't get out as her nails were unusually short, worn down to the quick, she had no bedding material and we think she ran out of time and had to give birth where she was" explained Trevor Weeks MBE founder of WRAS.
"When Trevor passed me the first baby I was surprised how cold he was, straight away I tucked him down my top to keep warm, the others were just as bad and all needed gently warming up" said rescuer Kathy Martyn.
The youngsters were wrapped up and taken back to Trevor's home in Uckfield where the babies were warmed up in one of Trevor's best warm winter jumpers with a pair of "Helping Hands" full of hot water. After about 15 minutes all but one of the five young started to respond and move about more, so rescuers decided to try putting the four surviving babies back with mum, to see whether she would accept them after such a traumatic evening.
"To our amazement when we checked an hour later, she had moved closer to her young and they were all tucked up underneath her as if nothing had happened. It was amazing to see as hedgehogs don't like being disturbed and are notorious at abandoning their young or even killing them when disturbed at such a young age" explained Kathy.
After a couple of hours rescuers moved mum and babies to a large hutch in a shed where they were kept with Trevor's jumper for comfort and familiarity to settle into their new home.
"It was so nice to see her nursing her young again and so pleased that they survived their fall and poor start to life" said Kathy, "we will leave her alone for 7 days and will just provide food and water and additional bedding material and check her in a week to see how they are progressing. We have all our fingers crossed for her and the survival of her young."
Hedgehogs are thought to be declining by 5% a year and the work of organisations like WRAS is important conservation and animal welfare work.
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Trevor Weeks MBE - East Sussex WRAS: 01825 873003 or 07931 523958
Kathy Martyn - 07931 519646