About Hedgehog Bottom

Hedgehog Bottom is based in deepest darkest West Berkshire. West of Reading, east of Newbury. Thatcham to be precise. We are a small charity hedgehog hospital and rescue taking in 700+ wild hedgehogs each year and have a release rate of around 92%.

Education takes up a fair part of our time. We take many phone calls asking for advice, support ex-pats in Europe who need backup when there is no veterinary support, do talks for groups in the UK and have taken part in a number of TV programmes, the most notable being the ITV/Endamol Hedgehog Hotel.

We actively network with other rescues across the UK and have been closely involved with the creation and support of rescues in Europe and New Zealand, sharing best practice whenever possible.

We've been running for 10 years sticking to the original ethos of 100% volunteer run and minimal expenditure on anything that's not directly to do with the animals. This means our overheads are extremely low and we don't have to spend a lot of time and money on fundraising activities.

Increasingly, we are seeing the exotic pet species that are being dumped and have had to set up a rehoming and boarding service to fund the care of those, separately from the wilds, so that they don't eat into the charity funds.

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 and after a lot of research, training and with the support of our fantastic veterinary clinic, are equipped to deal with most things that are presented to us from dog attacks and strimmer injuries through to intestinal parasites and orphaned babies.

We take in around 700 animals each year and they, 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 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 without very good reason. There are occasions when we just can't deal with one and in those cases we try to offer advice and link the hog up with the expertise it requires. We handle 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 go to Vale Wildlife Hospital or Tiggywinkles.

We currently have space for 150 hedgehogs but always manage to squeeze in more. During the summer it's easier as hogs are released as soon as they are well but 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 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.