Hedgehogs need you

Joseph Bulmer

ANNI Nicholls of Braunton is hoping readers can help her out of a prickly situation.

Anni has become well known as the hedgehog lady, taking in and caring for animals that have been injured or in distress and especially young hogs that are not big enough to go through the winter months without some help.

But hedgehogs are wild creatures and the time must come when they are released back into wild, says Anni.

That is when she has problems, for suitable new homes for hedgehogs are becoming increasingly hard to find.

So with this week being Hedgehog Awareness Week, Anni is appealing to readers who may have suitable sites in which hedgehogs can be released, now and in the future.

Suitable sites must be away from busy roads and from badgers – both major killers of hedgehogs.

Temporary sites are also needed where hedgehogs can stay while they get used to their new freedom before final release. Large, overgrown gardens, preferably enclosed, are best for this purpose.

Hedgehogs, the gardeners friend, are declining, says Anni. Loss of habitat means they are having to adapt to a more urban lifestyle.

These are some tips for giving them a fighting chance: Avoid the use of slug pellets; keep netting raised above the ground so hedgehogs can go underneath and not become entangled; provide escape routes from ponds and cover drains and other holes; beware discarded tins, pots, plastic rings and rubber bands, in which animals can get trapped; check bonfires and compost heaps; provide a bowl of water, cat biscuits or meat-based cat food – not fish based and definitely not milk.

If you can help, call Anni on (01271) 816989.