By Kenneth Gibson, MSP for Cunninghame North.
I am sure you have felt the effects of this winter’s often terrible weather.
In December, high winds and heavy rain meant ferry cancellations, fallen trees, closed Christmas markets and warmer winter jackets that on occasion left us feeling decidedly un-festive. For some, it is harder to cope with than others.
Since September, almost 1,000 hedgehogs in need have been cared for by the SPCA.
Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue by Beith has had what they describe as their worst year on record for hedgehog admissions, with almost 100 needing help in the last three months.
Frosty weather has meant that hedgehogs have found it more difficult to find food in the wild, making them dangerously underweight. Inclement weather has also lead to later births, which means that by the time winter rolls around, the “autumn juveniles,” as they are known, are too small to put on the weight they need to hibernate through the chill. It’s also common that mothers hibernate. When they do, it leaves their babies helpless and hungry.
If you do see a hedgehog wandering about in the daytime, leave it alone and call the SPCA or Hessilhead if in that area. A tell-tale sign that something is wrong is when a naturally nocturnal animal is out and about in the daytime. It’s not advised that you take them to a vet, given that most simply do not have the experience to deal with a hedgehog and will pass them on to a rescue centre. Sick hedgehogs tend to go downhill very quickly and without the correct medication, delaying bringing them to a rescue can be fatal.
Hessilhead is accepting donations to help with the influx of patients in the “Hedgehog Hospital.”
The hospital is in need of old shoe boxes and empty wine cases that can be lined with fleecy bedding and shredded paper to make cosy “sleeping boxes” for the poorly hedgehogs. Hedgehogs can also eat tins of non-fish-based dog and cat food or cat biscuits, all of which would be greatly appreciated, as the Scottish SPCA goes through 100 cans of food each day.
It is hoped that Hessilhead will be able to release some of the bigger hedgehogs if there is a period of warmer weather this winter, otherwise it is estimated that the majority of hedgehogs in their care will be released in the springtime.
To find out more about Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue go to www.hessilheadwildlife.org.uk or call 01505 502415
“Hettie is the smallest of our 96 hedgehogs. She came into care in November, weighing 176 gm. It is amazing that she survived the freezing weather. You can sponsor a hedgehog for £25, or make a donation to Hessilhead by visiting our website. Use the Justgiving button and give details in the comments box.”