Animal sanctuary opens hedgehog hospital for 250 prickly patients
- Credit: Paula Sparkes
An animal sanctuary which helps injured critters has become so inundated with hampered hedgehogs that it has had to dedicate entire wards of its hospital to them.
Hallswood Animal Sanctuary, based in Stratton Strawless, is currently caring for around 250 of the nocturnal creatures having already taken in 300 in the past year.
And it is dealing with so many of the prickly patients that its volunteers have had to devote entire wards on its custom-built animal hospital to solely care for them.
The not-for-profit organisation is run by a small team and supported by volunteers, but has no external financial support, funded only by its three charity shops and its own fundraising activities.
But since the beginning of the pandemic, it has seen demands for its work go through the roof, in part due to more people venturing out into the countryside.
Paula Sparkes, volunteer co-ordinator at Hallswood, said: "The last nearly two years have been crazy for us, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic.
"I think because of the way people were going out walking more they were coming across injured animals that might otherwise not have been found.
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"But at the same time, lots of other places that offered the same things as us closed, whereas we just kept going, so it's all coming to us."
And while the sanctuary helps any animal in need, it is the spiky mammals that have proven the biggest strain on them, with 380 hedgehogs treated and released by volunteers during the spring and another 250 still on site.
This is on top of the beasts the volunteers are currently caring for.
They include doves, some squirrels and a badger.
And with the wooden structure housing its animal hospital approaching the end of its lifespan, the volunteers are desperately crowdfunding to buy a replacement.
Mrs Sparkes added: "The wood is starting to rot and we only have a really small window in which we can rebuild it, as we need to do it after we've released all the hedgehogs, but before baby bird season comes around.
"We think the materials will cost around £8,000, so any donations we can get will help."
For further information visit hallswood.co.uk
Top tips on caring for an injured hedgehog:
Here are some top tips for caring for injured hedgehogs according to the Wildlife Trust.
Always contact a specialist group before trying to deal with an injured hedgehog yourself.
Prepare a cardboard box with high sides so they cannot climb out, and line it with newspaper or a towel.
Wear thick gloves, such as gardening gloves, before handling the animal. Their spines are extremely spikey.
Keep the box in a quiet, warm place. Hedgehogs are wild animals unaccustomed to being around busy households and humans, so make sure they can remain calm.
If possible, fill a hot water bottle with warm water from the tap to keep them warm.
You can give the hedgehog fresh water to drink, and meat-based cat or dog food. However, do not try to feed the animal directly.