Trevor’s Week: April 27, 2011 - Hedgehog Awareness Week

NEXT week is Hedgehog Awareness Week organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society of which WRAS is a member organisation.

Now we’ve released virtually all of our over-wintered hedgehogs I’ll write a bit on hedgehogs in general over the next few weeks.

Excluding casualties, one of the key calls we receive is from people wanting hedgehogs for their garden. Gardeners wrongly think a hedgehog will solve all their slug and snail problems, no it won’t.

Hedgehogs primarily eat beetles and caterpillars. Only about five per cent of their natural diet is slugs and snails but the number goes up if there are no other sources of food available. Forcing them to live just on slugs and snails is not a good balanced diet.

Lungworm is a common problem for hedgehogs and they can pick this up from eating slugs and snails.

Lungworm leads to Pneumonia or haemorrhaging within the lungs.

Once a hedgehog eats a slug it only takes three weeks before the lungworms are established in the lungs. Lungworms are parasitic nematode worms.

Pat Morris in his book The New Hedgehog Book writes, “Lungworms are very tiny (invisible without a microscope) but attack the lungs in large numbers. This causes the hedgehog to produce a lot of watery fluid in its air passages and breathing becomes very laboured.

“Once the worms have established the hedgehog wheezes and coughs as though it had smoked 40 cigarettes a day.”

WRAS is running three Hedgehog Awareness talks as part of the Hedgehog Awareness Weeks, Tuesday, May 3 ,at 7.30pm, May 5 at 7.30pm, and May 7 at 2pm.

Free for a donation (suggested minimum donation £5 per person). Booking required via 01825-873003. You will even get to meet a hedgehog!

The talks will take place at WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre on the A22 at Whitesmith.

THE EASTER weekend was luckily not too busy. Tony N rushed to the aid of a swan caught in a metal grate in the inlet stream at Princes Park.

The poor swan was hanging by its left leg, struggling and in a lot of discomfort . After climbing onto the grate Tony lifted the swan up and free its leg without getting wet!

The swan’s leg was bandaged and it was driven to the Swan Sanctuary for expert assessment.

Val and Murrae were called at the same time to deal with a swan which crash landed in Pacific Drive, Sovereign Harbour North, after WRAS received calls from concerned members of the public, lifeboat crew and Sussex Police. It was a bit stunned but otherwise ok, and eventually taken down to Princes Park for release.

THISTLE and Teasel, two baby feral pigeons, have come in to us just hatched.

They were found on the ground of the NCP car park in Eastbourne. Teasel was stone cold and both shivering badly, but after warmth and fluids both improved beyond recognition.

They are now thriving, very vocal and very lively; they love to joust with each other using their beaks!

Another two pigeons have come in - both been found by WRAS volunteers!

One found in the road not moving with people driving over it, which just seems stunned - called Scarlet Pimpernel.

The other a pretty white and black pigeon who was found in Hailsham town centre. It is underweight and has a slightly dropped wing.

I HAVE been out to a bat at Bodle Street Green last week butsadly it took over three hours for them to find our number.

The bat was very badly emaciated and died within minutes of us picking him up. I have never handled a bat so underweight and just skin and bones.

WE HAD a call about 11.30pm from Sussex University last week after a sparrowhawk became trapped in once of their lecture theatres.

It was caught using the old sparrowhawks don’t fly in the dark when you turn off the lights trick! The bird was released back in its home range at the University.

WE WERE called out by Sussex Horse Rescue last week when staff found a young fox cub in one of their fields. It was found close to some bushes but moving around. Kathy attended and felt the cub had recently been fed and was not abandoned. It was returned to its mum in the evening, which took about three hours.

NATIONAL Gull Rescue and Protection is no longer dealing with gull rescues and it is unclear what the future holds.

WRAS donated aviaries, equipment and funding to help set them up but it appears they may have set their sights too high and tried to do too much too soon.

We understand the RSPCA now has many of the gulls in their care.

As a result WRAS is receiving numerous calls about sick and injured gulls, but we do not have many suitable facilities.

We don’t have the funds either to establish facilities for dealing with gulls, along with all the other projects we are attempting to establish, like the deer hospital and completion of the education area and phase two of the casualty care centre, as well as ensuring we have sufficient funds to deal with the orphaned animals already in care and the daily casualties we already deal with.