It’s no secret I love hedgehogs. Since a little girl, I’ve always found them adorable. It’s their cute faces and quivering, teeny-tiny noses that makes them my favourite mammal.
After writing my new children’s book ready for Christmas about two hoglets, I realised I wanted to help hedgehogs in the wild. I contacted Sophie Hanks after finding her rescue on Facebook. She’s a local lady looking after lots of our spiky friends. As soon as I met her I could see her dedication towards helping sick and injured hedgehogs. I also had lots of questions about how she started the rescue and why. Sophie gave me a warm welcome, showing me around and explaining how the place ticked over.
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Lynette: ‘Sophie, it’s lovely to meet you. Can I ask what made you start your rescue?’
Sophie: ‘I’ve always loved Hedgehogs but until Covid-19 I worked in child care. When the virus hit I stayed at home with my family and enjoyed being with them. It also made me realise that I wanted to do something else with my time. I was poorly a few years back with cancer and thought there was something else I could do with my life. I didn’t know where to start yet I wanted to give something back.
Then a position opened at another rescue and I jumped at the chance. I gained a lot of valuable experience and my training was certified by a vet but it wasn’t quite what I wanted to do. I needed to do more…
I began to collect pieces of equipment in case I ever got the chance to open my own rescue. One day a lady contacted me. She’d found an injured hedgehog and wanted my help. That’s when I thought it’s now or never.’
Lynette: ‘So, how long has the rescue been open?’
Sophie: ‘We’ve only been up and running since December 2020 and it’s been a crazy time. The minute we opened the doors it snowballed.’
Lynette: ‘That’s incredible. So how many animals have you treated?’
Sophie: ‘So far we’ve had thirty-four hedgehogs come into our care. Sadly, not all made it but the vast majority were released back into the wild.’
Lynette: ‘That’s pretty impressive. So what have you found to be the toughest hurdle?‘
Sophie: ‘For me the biggest hurdle is the types of injuries and seeing the hedgehogs suffer. When a sick hedgehog comes into the rescue I desperately want to save them. I take every one of them to my heart and I do everything I can to save them although it isn’t always enough. Sometimes the hedgehog is beyond my help and I feel I’ve failed when that happens.
This week in particular has been hard. A couple of weeks ago we had an horrific strimmer injury which was heart-breaking. Then we had a little girl hoglet who had to be put to sleep because she had a terrible case of fly-strike. The vet couldn’t save her and I felt that if we’d reached her a couple of hours earlier we may have saved her.’
Lynette: ‘I’m so sorry to hear that. How do hedgehogs suffer from fly-strike? What is it?’
Sophie: ‘When hedgehogs are really poorly they stay still for long periods of time. The flies sense there’s an injury and they come to the hedgehog and lay their eggs on them. If the hedgehog is moving the flies can’t stay on the animal long enough. A classic sign of a sick hedgehog is when they’re staying still and there’s flies hovering around them.’
Lynette: ‘How many hedgehogs do you have staying with you at present and what are their names?’
Sophie: ‘Currently we have eleven residents. Our baby hoglets are Crackle, Pop, Squeak and Snap. Then there’s Betty, Flo, Bernie, Duke, Rothwell and Hettie.’
Lynette: ‘Who helps you with the rescue?’
Sophie: ‘My hubby is a massive help. My children are brilliant and get involved, especially my ten-year-old daughter, Lucy. She’s a bit of a nature enthusiast and loves it when I get out the microscope. She’s at my side all the time and loves anything to do with hedgehogs. During lockdown she wrote reports on parasites, how hedgehogs get them and how to treat them. She’s very involved and education is the way forward. Our children are the next generation and need to understand the drastic decline in hedgehogs. We must help them as much as we can or we’ll lose these precious animals forever.
However, family and friends aside, I couldn’t have done this on my own. I’ve received amazing support from other local rescues such as Prickles and Paws, Scunthorpe, Caister Hedgehog Care, Holton-le-Clay and Charlie’s Hedgehogs. They’ve all been a massive blanket of support and I can’t thank them enough.’
Lynette: ‘Who helps pay the vet bills?’
Sophie: ‘Our wonderful donators. Without them there would be no Happy Hogs Hedgehog Rescue.’
How can you help Happy Hogs Hedgehog Rescue?
Please leave a donation via GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/happy-hogs-hedgehog-rescue/donate
Happy Hogs Hedgehog Rescue website: http://www.happyhogshedgehogrescue.co.uk
You can contact Sophie: 07592415439
- Happy Hogs Hedgehog Rescue is a non-profit organisation.