Taking Care of Hedgehogs
Looking after sick and injured Hedgehogs seems to be a full on labour of love for Martin and Harriet, the mother and son team that run the Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary. The family run local charity was established in 2015 by Martin and Harriet who, with help from the local community, are involved on a daily basis currently rehabilitating up to 70 hedgehogs at any one time.
Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary is set in about 10 Acres of woodlands, fields, and hedgerows, with special pens and gardens for the hedgehogs which are protected to avoid any harm or disruption from people. The Sanctuary is actually located on the same lands that made up Grahame Dangerfield's Animal Sanctuary and still uses many of the pens and cages. Grahame Dangerfield was a British naturalist, author and broadcaster. In the 1960s he was one of the first British television naturalists and was largely involved with rescued British wildlife. As a child in the 80’s, Martin lived close to Graham Dangerfield and often helped out with the care of animals in Graham’s wildlife sanctuary.
Martin told Minimagazines, “We look after Hedgehogs which are sick, injured, underweight or need help. Injured hedgehogs are de-wormed, de-flead and any ticks are removed from their bodies. We also tend to young hoglets during the spring/summer months that have lost their mothers and are orphaned or have been found abandoned, many of these still have their eyes closed.”
Over 150 Hedgehogs were released back in to the wild in 2018 and that number will be exceeded this year. There is a local selection of gardens, river lined woodlands and large parks for release sites including areas such as Kimpton, Codicote, Batford, Southdown, Harpenden, Wheathampstead, St Albans, Knebworth, Hitchin, Sandridge, Slip End, Caddington, and South East side of Luton. There are a few exceptions when a hedgehog is not released back in to the wild, such as hedgehogs that are blind when rescued. These disabled hedgehogs, of which there are just a few each year, are released into secure gardens with Hedgehog Guardians to look after them.
Most of the costs involved in helping the hedgehogs at the Charity are currently covered by the members, but some very generous people donate both money, food, and time (the Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts, and Nine Lives Vets Redbourn) which has helped out immensely. In August 2018 an online shop was opened which is managed in the hope that the funds made from the sale of the products will cover some of the daily costs of running the Charity and hopefully help contribute to the future projects planned - i.e. the charity does not have a hospital which is a priority project.
The Hedgehog Sanctuary is not open to the public but you can book an educational and awareness group visit to Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary or a visit to you can be arranged at your school, organised group, conference, or event. Ideal for groups such as the beavers, cubs, scouts, brownies, rainbows, and girl guiding.
Top 10 Garden Hedgehog-Friendly Tips!
1. Make a small 13cm x 13cm hole in your fence.
This is probably the most important thing you can do to help our hedgehogs. A hole in your fence or wall allows hedgehogs to roam freely though gardens.
2. Put out food and water for the hedgehogs.
Water is more important than food but both will help hedgehogs. This can be done all year round but especially during the very cold and very hot seasons. Hedgehogs love jelly based dog or cat food and dried cat biscuits. You can also treat them to dried hedgehog food. Never feed them milk or bread though!
3. Place a hedgehog house in your garden.
A hedgehog house provides a safe place for them to nest during the day. It also gives them a snug place to hibernate during the cold seasons and may be used for mothers giving birth to hoglets. You can make a home yourself or buy one online (we sell hog homes and deliver for free locally).
4. Maintain hedges but don’t cut them down.
Hedges are an important area for hedgehogs, they forage for food in them, snuggle up into the leaves to nest and they provide a safe place to rest.
5. Pile up wood to form stacks and make compost heaps.
Piles of wood attract insects which is food for the hedgehogs. Stacked logs are also an ideal home for hedgehogs to nest in. The same goes for compost heaps which provide excellent shelters, but please be careful when you empty them for use in your garden.
6. Don’t fill in old rabbit burrows and try to leave gaps under sheds.
Hedgehogs will reuse old rabbit holes to nest in along with most structures that have access underneath them.
7. Plant wildflowers and fruit trees.
Attracting insects is key to helping most wildlife but also hedgehogs, having a small area of your garden with wildflowers or fruit trees will help.
8. Make your pond safe with a ramp.
Hedgehogs can swim but need to be able to get out of ponds; a small ramp will fix this.
9. Stop using chemicals.
Chemicals in your garden hurt most insects and wild animals including hedgehogs. Help them by finding alternatives to chemicals.
10. Be careful with bonfires.
We rescue lots of hedgehogs that have sustained bad injuries from bonfires. Rustle the bonfire and listen for noise before you light it or even better, light your bonfire the same day you stack it up.
Second box out
Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary
07999 573513 (10am-10pm any day of the week for hedgehog rescues)
Please follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/HornbeamWood) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/hedgehogsanctuary). You may also like to visit our website (www.hornbeamwood.org.uk) to find out ways you can help and support us.