Hedgehog Rescue in Holmeswood

What do you do with 50 abandoned hedgehogs? Down at Holmeswood they weigh them, warm them and return them to the wild

With Mother’s Day on the horizon, this probably isn’t the best time to raise the prickly subject of bad parenting, especially when it involves mums abandoning their helpless offspring.

But it’s an issue of some concern for Vicky McDerby and her colleagues. They have no fewer than 50 orphaned hedgehogs to care for at the Woodlands Animal Sanctuary in Holmeswood near Rufford.

The bad weather has meant the phone has rarely stopped ringing as people find these little mammals trying to fend for themselves.

‘They seem to have been breeding later in the year so the young have been appearing when the weather has been at its worst and there has been little or no food available,’ says Vicky.

‘Sadly, hedgehogs aren’t great mums so when they struggle to find food they just go off and leave the babies behind. It’s reached the stage where hedgehog numbers are under threat.’

The Woodlands team are doing their best to rescue as many as possible, keeping the youngest on warming mats as they feed, water, and muck out these unfortunate waifs.

Most Read

Once they have recovered from their ordeal and they’ve reached their goal weight of 850 grammes, Woodlands operates a rehoming programme but they only go to gardens which pass a special inspection.

‘There are many reasons why numbers have dwindled,’ says Vicky. ‘A lot of it has to do with chemicals and pesticides in gardens. Paved gardens are not much good for hedgehogs and neither are neat gardens. People move sheds or cut down overgrown areas of nettles and ruin their habitat. They need undergrowth to forage.

‘People assume they live on slugs and snails but these really aren’t good for them as they pass on a lung worm. Bread and milk is not suitable - they need fresh water and cat or dog food.’

The Woodlands charity was established by Vicky’s mother Jacqui and her daughter now runs its with trustee Michelle Roderick and a dedicated band of volunteers. They largely rely on donations to keep hundreds of animals housed on the site.

They are hoping to raise enough to build a new block, which will have an intensive care unit for orphaned hedgehogs.

Woodlands cares for a wide range of creatures, each one an example of man’s inhumanity to the animal world - from the goose thrown off a motorway bridge to the sheep kept in a kitchen.

Have a ballOne of Wodlands fundraising events is a spring ball being held in the Southport Convention Centre on March 5. If you would like to buy tickets or make a donation, call 01704 823293.