Leicester

Woman with house full of hedgehogs says 'no more'

Hedgehogs Image copyright PAula Garner
Image caption The hedgehogs are given medication and fed back to health

A woman who has filled both her and her mother's home with rescued hedgehogs says she cannot take in any more.

Paula Garner, from Barrow upon Soar in Leicestershire, has been nursing the spiky animals back to health for the past five years.

She said she was currently caring for about 80 hedgehogs and had reached her limit.

It follows a spike in new arrivals due to the hot weather and a mystery illness affecting young hedgehogs.

Image caption Paula Garner says caring for the hedgehogs is a 24-hour operation

Ms Garner said her rescue operation started five years ago when her mother found a maggot-infested hedgehog and no existing sanctuaries had space.

A local vet showed her how to help the animals return to full fitness and when she posted about it on Facebook, more people began bringing her sick hedgehogs to care for.

Her house is now home to dozens of recuperating hogs and hoglets, and she uses her mother's house in a neighbouring village as a makeshift intensive care unit.

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Media captionThe hedgehog rescue run from a house

She said the mystery illness killing young hedgehogs had left her and wildlife experts scratching their heads.

"There are lots of tests being carried out but it's happening all over the country and in France too," she said.

"There aren't many warning signs but it's all hands on deck when it hits.

"Luckily, we seem to have found a treatment that's working but it's still unknown what's causing it."

Image caption Ms Garner said she would like to move the operation out of her home

Last year a report suggested UK hedgehog numbers had fallen by about 50% since the turn of the century.

Ms Garner, who runs the rescue operation by herself but calls on the help of volunteers to foster hedgehogs before they're released back into the wild, said she hoped to move her operation into a rented space in the long term.

And she insisted she had no problems telling each of her hedgehog patients apart.

She said: "They've all got their own little look - different colours, sizes. Sometimes it's the way they walk and their little personality shining through. Each one is different."


How to help hedgehogs in your garden

  • Leave areas of your garden "wild" with piles of leaf litter and logs
  • Purchase a purpose-built hedgehog home from a garden centre
  • Leave out fresh water and tinned dog or cat food (not fish-based)
  • Cover drains and holes, and place bricks at the side of ponds to give hedgehogs an easy route out
  • Check for hedgehogs before using strimmers and mowers
  • Consider a natural alternative to slug pellets as these can poison hedgehogs

Source: RSPCA

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