by Diane, rescue founder
Where it began.
In 2018, while enjoying a family vacation in Norfolk, we came across a small hedgehog crossing a dirt track during broad daylight. We were aware that this behaviour was unusual and might indicate a need for assistance, but being away from our hometown and in an area without mobile phone signal, we were unsure of the appropriate course of action. Our immediate response was to provide some water and create a shady spot for the hedgehog beneath a bush.
Upon our return from the holiday, we embarked on a quest to educate ourselves about how to handle such situations properly. It became evident that our initial response was insufficient, and the hedgehog should have been taken to a rescue centre for proper medical attention. This realisation fuelled our desire to make a positive impact on the lives of hedgehogs. Subsequently, we reached out to a rescue and became dedicated hedgehog foster caregivers. Our role involved nurturing hedgehogs that had completed their treatment but needed additional time and care to achieve the necessary release weight.
Fast forward to 2020, during the COVID lockdown, we encountered another hedgehog active during daylight hours. This time, we were well aware that it required immediate attention from a rescue. We promptly reached out to the nearest rescue and transported the hedgehog to their care. Initially, we had anticipated a simple drop-off and return home. However, given the unusual circumstances of both of us being out of work due to the pandemic, we saw an opportunity to make productive use of our unexpected free time.
With this newfound motivation, we returned home armed with an extensive shopping list of essential equipment needed to establish our very own hedgehog rescue. Recognising our limited availability due to our regular jobs, and family, we decided to run a small scale rescue, focusing on the care of only 3 or 4 patients. Little did we realise how this decision would shape our future endeavours.
Both Andrew and I successfully completed the 'First Aid, Care & Rehabilitation of Hedgehogs' course, conducted by Vale Wildlife Hospital in collaboration with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Following the course, we established a small dedicated area within our utility room, equipped with essential supplies and boxes to care for our initially intended 3 or 4 hedgehog patients. However, as the summer of 2020 unfolded, it became apparent that our house's space would not suffice.
In response, we began creating additional room in our garage, setting up more boxes to accommodate the growing number of hedgehogs in need. During our inaugural year, we provided care for over 150 hedgehogs!
As time passed and lockdown restrictions persisted, meaning neither of us could still work, it became increasingly evident that there was a dire need for hedgehog rehabilitation. Consequently, we embarked on a project to reorganise our garage, optimising the available space to accommodate a larger number of hedgehogs while still accommodating Andrew's tools and items such as camping equipment.
Our initial sense of accomplishment in meeting the previous year’s demands was short-lived as we quickly reached our capacity once again. Our living room had to be transformed into an intensive care unit and maternity ward and all non-hedgehog-related items being relocated out of the garage. Despite numerous adjustments to our shelving and box setups aimed at accommodating more hedgehogs, we still found ourselves operating at full capacity.
To compound the challenge, the summer heat made the garage almost unbearable for our hedgehog guests leading us to invested in fans and even an air-conditioning unit to maintain a comfortable temperature. It became increasingly evident that the garage, with the ever leaking roof, was too hot in the summer months and incredibly expensive to heat in the winter, was no longer a suitable long-term solution, and we realised the need to explore the construction of a purpose-built facility in its place.
Where we are now.
The year 2023 has proven to be yet another incredibly demanding year at our rescue. By the time August rolled around, we had already surpassed the total intake of 2022, which stood at 307 hedgehogs. In July we were providing care for an astonishing 72 hedgehogs simultaneously, greatly exceeding our typical range of 45 to 50.
As our hedgehog population under our care continues to expand, so do the day-to-day operational costs of running the rescue. Funding for essentials such as food, medicine, medical treatments, and necessary materials has been raised through a variety of fundraising efforts.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the generous public for their donations, whether in the form of financial contributions or physical items like food and supplies. Without these contributions, we would not be able to fulfil our mission. In addition to financial support, we are fortunate to have a dedicated team of volunteers who work tirelessly year-round, diligently cleaning out each of the hedgehog boxes every single day, contributing greatly to our cause.
What the future plans are.
It is our intention to knock down the existing garage and replace it with a built-for-purpose structure. All cleaning and sanitising will be done in there too (instead of in our downstairs toilet sink) and having it properly insulated will substantially cut down the heating and cooling costs. We are in the process of having plans drawn up and estimated cost is £15,000.
Prickly Pigs is currently registered as a not-for-profit organisation for fund raising purposes and we are also in the process of registering for full charity status and a charity number.