Sharon Johnson has been caring for the local hedgehog population for the past 5 years from the Shepperton Hedgehog Sanctuary at her house in Old Charlton Road. You may remember reading about it in the August issue of Shepperton Matters. She has rescued over a hundred of them, from tiny orphaned babies to really sick hogs.
They may have become overrun with parasites, had broken limbs, suffered nasty strimmer or dog injuries, or be blind. Some just need warmth, fluids and food for a while before being released into the wild again. Others might stay at the sanctuary for a while until they are strong, or the time of year is safe for them to go.
Human beings are sadly very much responsible for the demise of the hedgehog; fake grass, fences which stop the hogs natural foraging pathways and of course the terrible pesticides and slug pellets we use endlessly.
Autumn is a very important time to keep an eye on hedgehogs. For one thing, do think to check under any piles of leaves which you may be about to burn. These make for a great autumnal bonfire in the garden, but piles of leaves are also a prime location for hedgehogs to take up residence in preparation for winter.
Autumn is also the time when a late litter of hogs may leave juveniles little time to gain sufficient weight to see them through winter months. Earlier litters will have had a summer of eating and fattening up. A hog needs to be at 600g in weight to stand a chance of making it through these lean months. They may not have enough immunity against parasites either so are at risk.
Don’t go seeking them out, but if you happen to see any young hogs in daylight when the weather starts getting colder from October to February, think about weighing them and if they are under 600g alarm bells should ring. If around 450g then they definitely need help. Sharon Johnson of the Shepperton Hedgehog Sanctuary will be happy to help the little fellas so do get in touch with her via the sanctuary website or Facebook page.
You can do your bit to help hedgehogs. Opening up a CD size hole in a fence will allow them access to forage for food. Planting or conserving a wild area of garden will give them a safe habitat. You can leave shallow bowls of water or dog/cat/hedgehog food out for them -no fish variety though and no bread please! They may like them, but try to avoid giving them mealworms.
They have little nutritional value should be either avoided or kept to the minimum. Hogs will come back regularly if they get access to some nice meaty pet food though but please watch your dog if you have one. They do attack hogs and that doesn’t bear thinking about.
Sharon saw a great increase in donations and purchases from her wish list on Amazon as a result of the article in August. She would like to thank everyone who donated, but the winter months are expensive, so if you can help, do have a look at the link on the website: www.sheppertonhedgehogsanctuary.co.uk.
Thanks in advance. Let’s look after these charming little creatures.