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Here are some photos from a few years back when I spent a week following the work of Bill and Anne-Marie Long. The couple have their own functioning hedgehog hospital in an annex of their home in Mawnan Smith, Cornwall. Their dedication to these little mammals is astounding. The hedgehogs need help and care round the clock in order to be rehabilitated and ultimately released back into the wild.
I have since found out about and visited other hedgehog rescue centres around the country such as Prickly Ball Farm in Devon (http://www.devonwildlifecentre.co.uk/) and the Lincolnshire Hedgehog Hospital (http://www.hedgehogcare.org.uk/). All truly inspiring.

February is drawing to a close. Temperatures are still low. Hedgehogs are still in hibernation.
Hedgehogs usually hibernate between November and mid March. Only those hedgehogs that have built up enough fat reserves over the spring, summer and autumn months will be able to survive this process. Making hedgehogs’ homes in the garden (i.e. a pile of wood and dry leaves) and providing food is a great way to help them prepare for hibernation.Minced meat, tinned dog or cat food (not fish-based), crushed cat biscuits and chopped boiled eggs are all suitable food sources. Specialist hedgehog food is also available to buy from wild bird food suppliers. Hedgehogs should never be given milk as it can cause diarrhoea.
Sometimes, however, hedgehogs may need a bit more help.
As a general rule, juveniles found weighing between 300-500 grams during late autumn should be prevented from hibernating. The best course of action is to place the hedgehog in a large box with plenty of clean, fresh hay, crumpled newspapers or dry leaves. It can be housed in a garage or shed and should be fed two heaped tablespoons of food daily and provided with a shallow bowl of fresh water. It is important to handle the hedgehog as little as possible so that it does not become unnaturally tame and used to human contact. Once the hedgehog reaches a weight of between 550-680 grams, only if the weather is still relatively mild, it can be released back to the wild. Ideally it should be returned where it was found. If the weather is harsh, it is best to let the hedgehog hibernate in the garage or shed and then release it in the spring when other hedgehogs are seen coming out of hibernation.
Juveniles found weighing under 300g may be orphaned and not yet weaned. These hedgehogs require more specialist care and should be passed on to an experienced wildlife rehabilitator.

More information about who to contact, how to care for autumn juveniles and how to make your garden hedgehog friendly is available on the RSPCA website (http://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/inthewild/gardenhedgehogs) and at http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/index.php .

I had my own rescue and release experience last year at my mum’s house when she found a hedgehog in our garden pond:

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