Octavia’s story

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I wanted to share this video with you all – Octavia’s story. She came into my hedgehog hospital as a tiny hoglet only 153g. She had a terrible infected bite wound. It has been a long journey to recovery but she is now over 650g and ready for hibernation.

 

You can read more about Octavia’s injury was treated here.

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. You can support my work at www.littlesilverhedgehog.com

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Jewellery Open House

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I’ll be opening my doors this Saturday 2 December at my third Open House event in York.

Ethical handmade Christmas gifts

Ethical handmade Christmas gifts

It’s a chance to peruse my handmade silver jewellery and pick up leaflets, posters and information about helping hedgehogs. The proceeds support my work rescuing poorly and injured wild hedgehogs.

I’ll also have hedgehog Christmas cards, notebooks and tiny glass hedgehogs for sale.

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Hedgehog Christmas cards, notebooks and glass hedgehogs will also be for sale

You can find out more about the event here.

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Some of the gorgeous handmade jewellery that will be for sale at the Open House

I hope to see you there but, if you can’t make it, don’t worry because Little Silver Hedgehog is always open online at www.littlesilverhedgehog.etsy.com

You can also discover other ideas for ethical Christmas gifts on my blog.

Build an insect hotel

Insect hotel, bug house, wildlife hotel
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What does an insect hotel have to do with hedgehogs? Well, insects (and particularly beetles) are actually top of the hedgehog diet. Attracting insects into your garden will also help hedgehogs and other wildlife thrive.

Autumn is a great time to build one – when you will be able to forage for plenty of pine cones, twigs and leaves.

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The wild hedgehog diet – with beetles at the No.1 spot!

To build your insect hotel, you will need:

  • Imagination
  • Lots of foraged items
  • Some basic DIY skills
  • Inspiration
  • Plenty of time – it takes longer than you think
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Our finished bug hotel

Insect hotels are all very different so I am not going to give you a step by step guide to how I built mine but, instead, I’m sharing my top tips. You can create yours with a pitched or flat roof, perhaps even with a living roof of plants. If you are looking for a step-by-step guide, you can find one here

The insect hotel built by my husband uses wood from old wooden pallets as a base to create the compartments and the roof slats. He has constructed a hedgehog nesting area underneath by creating a foundation of bricks, built around a cavity. We later filled the cavity with hay. You can fill your insect hotel with all sorts of things but ours included:

  • Plastic drainpipe
  • Bricks
  • Offcuts of wood with holes drilled in
  • Twigs
  • Logs
  • Fruit canes cut into lengths
  • Pine cones
  • Hay
  • Leaves
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We created a base of bricks underneath the hotel and filled it with hay for hibernating hedgehogs

Start by creating a mood board using Pinterest, which is packed with photographs of the insect hotels that other people have created which you can use as inspiration.

Scour freecycle  and gumtree as well as local community pages for free or cheap wooden pallets and wood offcuts (untreated wood). I picked up a large pallet for £1.

If you are hoping to attract solitary bees, the hotel needs to be south facing.

It took part of 3 weekends to create this large insect hotel. It has a front and a back section but we’ve focused on filling the front section so far. It makes a lovely feature when viewed from the kitchen window!

Insects were already taking up occupation before we had finished building, so we know it works…

We created the ‘bug hotel’ sign by engraving the word using a Dremmel tool and then using a soldering iron to turn the letters black.

Don’t forget to share your pictures when you have finished!

If you don’t have time to build a fancy insect hotel, remember that a big pile of logs can also be great for attracting beetles and here are some other great tips for making your garden hedgehog friendly.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. My work is entirely self-funded. You can find out more about supporting my work at www.littlesilverhedgehog.com

Why you shouldn’t feed hedgehogs mealworms

Hedgehogs feeding in garden
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Like many people, I used to feed dried mealworms to my visiting garden hedgehogs. I used to feed them in moderation but I had no idea quite how bad they were for the health of my spiky friends.

I knew that mealworms were to hedgehogs what sweets are to children. If given the choice, they would live on nothing but this junk food. They are highly addictive and hedgehogs will soon choose to consume nothing else.

What I didn’t know though was that mealworms, and probably also foods like peanut kibble and sunflower hearts, actively strip bones of calcium. This is the likely cause of increasing numbers of hedgehogs coming into hedgehog rescues with metabolic bone disease, including Benjamin who was cared for here last year.

Hedgehogs feeding in garden

I used to feed visiting hedgehogs a mix of kitten biscuits and a few mealworms. Now I’ve cut out the mealworms completely.

Please read the article to find out the full reasons why you shouldn’t feed these foods. A good quality kitten or cat biscuit, water and some meaty cat or dog food (non gravy) is all you need to keep your prickly visitors healthy.

You can also help by making your garden insect friendly to ensure there are plenty of beetles and caterpillars – their favourite natural foods. There is plenty of calcium in the exoskeletons of beetles.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. Like all wildlife rescues my work is entirely self funded. You can find out more about how to support my work here.

Make a hedgehog hole!

Hedgehog hole to link gardens
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Making a hedgehog hole to link your garden with others is one of the most important things you can do to help hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs need access to a large number of gardens and other habitats to find sufficient food and mates. They roam up to 2km a night between gardens, parkland and allotments. Habitat loss and people fencing in gardens and other green spaces may be a major contributor towards their declining numbers.

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A hedgehog hole in my garden

Make a 13cm (5 inch) square hole in or under any fences. This will provide hedgehogs with access but should keep any neighbouring dogs out. Remember to create a hole on all sides of your garden.

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Hedgehog highway sign. Pic: PTES

I love these hedgehog highway signs from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. If you move house, it hopefully means that future residents will understand why the hole was created and keep it open.

You can also purchase special gravel boards that have hedgehog holes already built in from a number of fencing suppliers including from Jacksons Fencing.

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Hedgehog friendly gravel board. Pic: Jacksons Fencing

When you’ve made your hedgehog holes, please map them on the Big Hedgehog Map to help build a picture of hedgehog habitats across the country.

Don’t delay – do it today! Then, when you’ve done it, ask your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to do the same….

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. Like all wildlife rescues, my work is entirely self-funded. You can find out more about how to support my work at www.littlesilverhedgehog.com

Burnt hedgehogs – watch out for wildlife in your bonfire

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Don’t toast anything but marshmallows on your bonfire this Bonfire Night.

Sadly, every year wildlife dies a cruel and painful death by being burnt in bonfires. It isn’t just bonfires built for Bonfire Night on November 5 but also those created to burn garden waste at any time of year.

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Hedgehog often nest in a loose pile of Autumn leaves – a bit like those created for bonfires

Piles of twigs, logs and Autumn leaves are the perfect hibernation spot for hedgehogs and other wildlife, such as frogs and toads. Bonfire Night falls right at the time when all these creatures are seeking a snug home for the Winter. The middle of a bonfire pile is the ideal spot – out of the wind and the rain.

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To prevent this needless suffering, please consider whether you need a bonfire at all. A pile of twigs and leaves is a perfect home for wildlife year round and makes a great garden feature.

If you must create a bonfire, build it on the day it is going to be lit. Create a pile and then move it to the bonfire site on the day itself. Choose a site that is clear of leaves and other vegetation where you are sure there are no creatures already hibernating.

If you have no choice but to build your bonfire in advance, check thoroughly with bright torches and watch for movement and listen for noises. Hedgehogs will be in the bottom 2 feet of the bonfire. They will often dig down into the ground beneath it. Ideally a team of people should check to cover all sides of the bonfire. Only ever light the bonfire from one side – giving wildlife a chance to escape from the other sides. Whilst it helps, this way of checking is not as good as creating the bonfire on the day. If a hedgehog is hibernating, it will not stir….

If you find a hedgehog, capture it and keep it safe and away from noise in a high sided box. You can find more info on how to look after it here. Only release the hedgehog back when the bonfires are finished and you are certain that the embers have gone cold.

Even with checks, some hedgehogs are unlucky. Below is a hedgehog that was found in a bonfire and all the spines on its back have been singed. This hedgehog did survive but it took many months of treatment for it to recover and the spines to re-grow.

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Burnt hedgehog. Photo courtesty Dorthe Madsen

The hedgehog below was not so lucky, its injuries were too severe for it to be saved.

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Burnt hedgehog. Photo courtesy Dru Burdon

So, remember, whilst you might be having fun on Bonfire Night, it is not so fun for wildlife that may be living in your bonfire. Always always check and ideally make your bonfire on the days itself. Please don’t create a needless wildlife casualty.

You can help to spread the word about checking bonfires. Get in touch with people organising bonfire parties in your area and ask them to check for wildlife. You can also download awareness posters here to put up at work, school and in your neighbourhood – look in the ‘information’ section.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York. My work is entirely self-funded. You can find out more about how to support my work at www.littlesilverhedgehog.com

Hedgehog wound treatment

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Octavia is being treated for a nasty facial wound that has sadly become infected. I’m sorry for the graphic nature of these pictures but this is the kind of reality that wildlife rescues face on a daily basis.

I wish hedgehogs could talk and that I knew the cause of the wound. This one is possibly a strimmer or bite wound. Sadly, the wound has got infected and the skin underneath is dying (necrotic). She has an abscess in the neck area on the same side that you can’t see in this picture.

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Octavia when she arrived and prior to any treatment

Upon arrival, hedgehogs are checked to assess the nature of their wounds. They will also go through a range of other checks to assess their size, weight, general health and whether they have internal or external parasites.

Some hedgehogs will immediately be taken to a vet for treatment if the wound is very severe. Many will require x-ray to ascertain the extent of any damage and infection. With any wound, it is possible that an impact may have caused bones to break. Abscesses can also track deep into the bone. Many of these things are beyond the skills of a hedgehog rescue, who must always work closely with a vet.

Depending on the nature of the wound, it may also require draining. This is done by a vet using a syringe/scalpel to draw out the infected pus. The hedgehog is usually ‘gassed down’ for this procedure.

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Octavia after 5 days of treatment

I clean wounds using a mix of hibiscrub (an antibacterial fluid used in surgery) in a warm saline solution. This softens the scabs and aids their removal. It also cleans and sterilises the wound. Hedgehogs are obviously wild creatures and wounds may have picked up all kinds of dirt and debris.

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Some of the wound treatments I use

The treatment for wounds like this takes a long time. This wound is being cleaned regularly to soften the scabs and to keep it sterile. I alternate the application of various different topical treatments to the area beneath the scabs. In this case, I am alternating between a wound gel and veterinary grade manuka honey. These help to clear the infection and to promote healing.

Depending on the nature of the injury, pain relief may also be required as well as antibiotics. Octavia is receiving a special antibiotic that is very good at treating open wounds and abscesses. She will receive this for at least 7 days.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York. My work is entirely self funded. You can find out more about how to support my work here.