I START planning my column and didn’t even get to finish the first sentence before the phone rings and Kathy and I end up rushing out to Buxted to deal with a very wobbly hedgehog on a driveway in Buxted.
The poor creature was extremely dehydrated and had loads of ticks. That’s been the theme of this week, with the phone going constantly.
Our volunteers have worked very hard this week and dealt with numerous calls including a rather dirty looking swan sat at the side of Lottbridge Drove in Eastbourne on Saturday morning which is now bedded down at our casualty centre. We’ve had two nests of baby birds rescued on Friday, as well as several fledglings, a hedgehog with bite marks to its front leg and neck, an injured greater spotted woodpecker and two injured pigeons attacked by gulls.
The good weather during last week was great news for us so we could release a few casualties back to the wild. Our hand-reared Dunnocks and Robins have gone from soft release, so we have seven hand reared blackbirds going into the aviary to start a soft release process.
We also managed to release an adult herring gull which was rescued last week entangled in fishing line and hooks, two hedgehogs, a hand reared Collared Dove and three hand reared white pigeons have also all gone out for release.
One of the biggest rescues of the week was undertaken by my partner Kathy. She rushed to the aid of four 10-day-old baby hedgehogs found in a bonfire at Piltdown on Thursday evening.
Local residents were about to light a bonfire but stopped just in time after hearing little squeaking sounds coming from the garden debris.
The property owner had been clearing vegetation from their garden the previous day and had piled the material up to form a bonfire. Once we knew how long they had been away from their mum we made the rescue a priority call and Kathy was on site with 15 minutes.
When she got there she found four approximately 10 day old baby hedgehogs. They were very cold and clearly had been away from their mum for a while and needed to come into care.
We try to reunite baby hedgehogs back with their mum where possible, but they had been away for too long and their nest cleared too long ago.
Kathy placed them on to a heat pad and cuddled them up in a small carrier with soft bedding and they were then driven down to one of WRAS’s experienced hedgehog rearers Monica Russell based in Eastbourne.
We always advise that if you are clearing a garden check the area first for nests, especially in borders where there is long grass, but also in pampas grass, and other thick vegetation. When dismantling sheds or greenhouses be prepared to replace the base in case there are creatures nesting underneath.
We also had a hedgehog in suffering from Pop Off Syndrome which we rushed into the St Anne’s Vets for emergency treatment. The vets quickly were able to anaesthetise the hedgehog in order to get it back into shape, Pop Off Syndrome is quite unusual and the muscle which contracts when a hedgehog curls up in a ball holding the spines in place, can slip up and over the pelvis and then contract above the spine rather than below round the belly.
The poor creature is now at WRAS’s Casualty Centre and we hope it will make a full recovery but there does appear to be some nerve damage to one of the front legs.