About Hedgehog Bottom Rescue
Hedgehog Bottom Rescue is based in deepest darkest West Berkshire. West of Reading, east of Newbury. Thatcham to be precise.
We are a 'Small Charity' which basically means that we are a non-profit organisation and do not have sufficient annual income to register with the Charities Commission.
We do not receive operating costs from Government or the Lottery. All expenditure is covered by ourselves, either from our own pocket or by donations from finders and well wishers.
100% of all income is spent on the animals. There are no staff salaries, vehicles or other non-essential expenses taken out of the pot.
How it all began
In common with other rescue centres for these endearing little prickly creatures, we didn't set out to be one. In fact if it hadn't been for the floods in 2007 I doubt we'd have anything other than the cats we'd been taking in.
Why the floods? Well, the fencing fell down and when the man came to install new posts and panels, he raked up a pile of leaves which promptly jumped up and ran off down the garden. Closer inspection revealed a little chap who was now hiding under a large pile of rubbish intended for the tip.
It didn't get to the tip for some months as I didn't have the heart to turf the poor little boy out. Part of the guilt necessitated making sure he was well and made it through the winter, so I hopped online and started some research.
First, catch your hog.....
"Pick the hog up and weigh it" said the instructions. It sounded so simple but after an hour or so of flying rugby tackles into bushes, we named the hoglet Speedy Gonzales and resorted to putting his food dish under a stick and lid contraption - string round the stick, wait, pull.
It worked, he was duly weighed, cleared, returned outside, given regular food and water and monitored until he went into hibernation.
Hook, line and sinker
The experience of dealing with Gonzales and the relief when he re-emerged in the spring left me amazed at how amenable, trusting and just darn cute these guys are, so when a tiny baby staggered out from a bush and dropped at my feet one boiling hot day, I was hooked.
An outside camera was duly purchased to watch for others in trouble and the first winter we housed between 6 and 8 that wouldn't have made it by themselves.
It's all gone mad!
Now we have a constant stream of them going through. The winter of 2009/10 has seen us packed to the gunwales with cages stacked on top of cages.
We are still a small home based set-up and I've had to find foster carers for some of the healthy hedgehogs that just need overwintering and feeding or we'd have disappeared under the onslaught.
Forty Seven hogs, whilst delightful and extremely rewarding, are a heck of a lot of work and cost a fortune to feed.
Our ethos and mission
- To care for sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs using veterinary guidance.
- To release all animals that are deemed capable of surviving in the wild.
- To find release sites for animals that are compromised but capable of living a near normal existence in a protected area.
- To increase public awareness about the decline in hedgehogs, the hazards they face, and to encourage children to respect hedgehogs and take an interest in them.
- To assist in scientific and behavioural research as we are able.
We never turn a hog away. There are occasions when for some reason or another that we just can't get our hands on them, in those cases we try to offer advice and link the hog up with the expertise it requires. We deal with most problems on site. Anything out of the ordinary is taken to our wonderful vet and if they can't deal with it, then the animal will go to the experts. Broken legs for example will always go to St Tiggywinkles where they have had huge success repairing them.
We currently have space for 20 hogs but always manage to squeeze in more. During the summer it's easier as hogs are released as soon as they are well. In winter this can't be done so once we know the animal is well, we pair it up with another one of similar size and sex thus doubling our capacity.
Spreading the word
We are doing our best to get the word out about the plight of our Hedgehogs but we could do with some help. We can give talks to schools and other groups without too many problems but fundraising can be time consuming especially when you have sick hogs to care for. Volunteers to assist in all areas are happily welcomed.