A day in the life of Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre

I took a trip down to Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre last weekend with the idea of documenting a day in the life of the centre. It can be a very busy place – especially in the winter when they had more than 70 hedgehogs at the peak – but even with a mere 20 in (as was the case during my visit) there is still loads to do!

Liz was in charge of the centre on the day of my visit. She was supported by three dedicated volunteers with other team members popping in with donations and deliveries throughout the day.  Ghost the cat also kept popping in and out – for attention mainly it would seem – which he got by the bucket load.

Each of the occupied cages needs cleaning and the bedding refreshed every day. Sometimes medication needs to be given to help the patients ward off infections or to restore their water levels. One of the hedgehogs needed a foot spa because of its infected foot.  Another had some ticks which required removal.  One needed some cream on his nose where a strimmer had nipped the tip of it.  A faecal sample needed to be taken and analysed from another.

There are a couple of incubators for the really sick hedgehogs. Unfortunately one of those was Simeon, who didn’t survive the duration of my visit – he was very poorly indeed – but the volunteers did their best to keep him warm, safe and comfortable in the final hours of his life.  Rest in peace, Simeon.

One hedgehog was admitted when I was there – another victim of a strimmer with a rather large head wound and some missing prickles. There were admission forms to fill in, weights to be established and an assessment to be carried out.  Thankfully Joseph seems to be recovering, fingers crossed for this little one.

After my visit, I decided that I needed to see a hedgehog being released back into the environment… This is such an important part of the work of the centre.  I met Martin at the Butterfly Park in New Ferry where a group of volunteers were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their newest residents.  New Ferry Butterfly Park is a Cheshire Wildlife Trust urban nature reserve developed on a former railway coal yard, goods yard and water softening plant. Once Martin had established the best place for the feeding station and shelter, Potter and Cat Woman were moved from their travel crates into their new home.  Their enthusiasm for their new found freedom wasn’t exactly mind-blowing – although we did see the nose of Cat Woman tentatively peeking out of the house just before it got too dark to see any more.  These two have definitely landed on their feet with their release location – what a great place for them.

This experience has given me a greater appreciation for the work of the centre and my already great fondness for these prickly creatures has only increased. Although we all agreed nature can be cruel when we said goodbye to Simeon, the success stories of those hedgehogs like Potter and Cat Woman really demonstrate the benefit that the Hedgehog Centre brings.

Wirral Animal Sanctuary Hedgehog Rescue Centre

The Wirral Animal Sanctuary Hedgehog Rescue Centre is moving into its second month of operations and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind first month for them. The Centre has enjoyed an overwhelming response to its call for new volunteers, publicity from several local media outlets (including the Liverpool Echo, Wirral Globe, BBC Radio Merseyside) and of course the demands of their first patients.

In the first month it has treated hedgehogs suffering from a range of illnesses with the intent of their eventual release back into the wild. When I went around to take some pictures last week, there were 8 hospitalised hedgehogs all waiting for the day when they are well enough to go back into the wild where they were found. The one exception to this is Eric as he was found at the side of a busy road… Lucky Eric is going to be released into a garden alongside a lady hedgehog. Well done Eric.

Before their pictures, the hogs were all snuggled up comfortably under a big pile of torn up newspaper. They came out of their cages in little balls and after some coaxing (aka stroking by Corrie) they stretched out and were actually very photogenic and obliging when it came to being in front of the camera.

The Centre is in need of cages, food, cleaning supplies, medicines and just funding generally so if you can help at all please click on one of the links below.

http://amzn.eu/5fAdRAg

https://www.justgiving.com/wirralanimalsanctuary

https://www.gofundme.com/save-wirral-hedgehogs

If you’d like to volunteer there is a recruitment day at the centre on 18 February 2017.

If you come across a hedgehog in distress, the phone number to the rescue centre is 07539 524755. More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/washogsrescue/

Chaos

Unlike the last Wirral Animal Sanctuary photoshoot, there wasn’t actually an animal called Chaos on this occasion – although one of the dogs was called Luna (short for Lunatic apparently). But despite their being no chaos, the afternoon was the usual hilarity of animals behaving in their most unpredictable ways.

Luna is a lovely, very bouncy husky, akita cross who was very excited about pretty much everything. I couldn’t help but like her despite the fact that she threw up within inches of me … Close call! Pip had a few snacks including sneaking a Dorito straight from the bowl (!) while keeping an eye on Steph at all times. Jackson, possibly the most photogenic dog ever, got right into position when he arrived – I felt like he was wondering what was taking me so long to get going! The ferrets Jack and Jill wiggled and jiggled in their harnesses when it was their turn to be in the spotlight moving so quickly I couldn’t quite keep up – although there was one moment when they both looked at me at the same time. Snap!

Sophie and Ellie brought the feline element to the afternoon but although representing the same species, their characters couldn’t have been more different. Ellie was a sweet and playful kitten very interested in the laser pointer and her mouse. Sophie is the most laid back cat I’ve ever seen – she was happy to be held, sit where she was put and was just generally so laid back that she was horizontal.

I am so pleased I had the privilege to photograph these lovely creatures and here are my results. Hopefully they help to find Luna, Jack and Jill and Ellie the homes they deserve.

Hog Induction

My task yesterday was to document Wirral Animal Sanctuary Hedgehog’s Rescue first volunteer training day. The Sanctuary is just in the process of setting up a dedicated facility to care for sick and injured hedgehogs.

Wow – so many people turned out to put themselves forward to help out these prickly little guys. Although I was busy with my camera, I still learnt some stuff. Here’s 5 hedgehog facts that have stuck in my head…

1. A hedgehog outside during the day is not sunbathing. They are nocturnal animals and more than likely that hedgehog needs some help.

2. A hedgehog’s eyesight isn’t great because their eyes are adapted for night-time vision – they rely largely on the sense of hearing and the sense of smell.

3. Hedgehog’s are noisy eaters who snuffle and grunt through mealtimes.

4. A hedgehog will visit many gardens within about a mile radius over the course of it’s evening rounds.

5. Looking at hedgehog poo is a good way to figure out how a hedgehog is feeling! Lovely! 😉

I think of it as a privilege to be able to get so close to these little creatures that normally are out under the cover of darkness doing their thing. If you want to help out, the best place to start is on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/washogsrescue/

Here’s a few of the pictures I took.