Heather Wildwood's hedgehog gave birth some five weeks ago to 4 healthy hedgehog babies. When first born they were naked but now 5 weeks on they are small versions of their mum and dad (Horatio) and are beginning to venture outside of the nest box with mum.
Hedgehogs were added to endangered list in 2007. The UK Biodiversity Action Plan shows almost 1,150 native species in 65 habitats are in danger around the country and in urgent need of special protection, this includes for the hedgehog. It is one of a list of 18 mammals that are considered at threat in the British countryside.
These animals are affected by many factors such as global warming, habitat loss, pollution, human persecution and in the case of Hedgehogs traffic leaves us with the all too familiar scene of the poor squashed animal at the side of the road.
At Wildwood you can see 9 of the 18 British mammal species currently considered endangered under the UK biodiversity plan. (Water Vole, Hedgehog, Wildcat, Otter, Pine Marten, Harvest Mouse, Dormouse, Polecat & Red Squirrel). More importantly the Park is actively involved in a number of conservation projects which are seeking to build populations of these animals by captive breeding, release schemes and groundbreaking research. Wildwood is also involved in the restoration of declining habitats using Beaver and Konik horses.
The park also has 3 of the 10 endangered British reptiles (Pool Frog, Common Lizard & Adder) as well as a range of plants in the ancient woodland itself that rare and in decline.
"A visit to Wildwood is not just a great day out" says Peter Smith chief executive of the trust "but visitors can see species that they will rarely see in the wild, but their entrance fee or membership fees go into our essential conservation projects helping to protect these vanishing creatures and habitats".
Hedgehogs are just some of the huge range of British animals that can be seen at the Wildwood Discovery Park near Canterbury. For more information visit our website at www.wildwoodtrust.org or telephone 0871 7820081.
Wildwood's 'Wildlife Conservation Park' is an ideal day out for all the family where you can come 'nose to nose' with British Wildlife. Wildwood offers its members and visitors a truly inspirational way to learn about the natural history of Britain by actually seeing the wildlife that once lived here, like the wolf, beaver, red squirrel, wild boar and many more.
Wildwood is situated close to Canterbury, just off the A291 between Herne Bay and Canterbury.
More Facts about HedgehogsErinaceus europaeus
Hedgehogs are probably our most familiar garden mammals, living in city parks and gardens as well as the countryside across Britain. They are very useful to the gardener, as they eat many garden pests.
Hedgehogs have short, sharp, stiff spines over the back and sides, short legs and a pointed snout. The underside is covered with dense fur and the animal will roll into a ball when alarmed. This presents the spines towards danger, but is the main reason why so many become road casualties.
Hedgehogs mainly eat beetles, caterpillars, earthworms and slugs. Many people put out a saucer of bread and milk for them, but this can be harmful as their stomach cannot digest bread, and cow's milk is a breeding ground for germs and can cause stomach upsets. A better diet would consist of tinned dog or cat food (but not fish-based varieties), minced meat, chopped liver, or scrambled egg. Dog biscuits, bran and peanuts can be used to supplement the diet and to provide roughage but sweet foods such as chocolate and fruit should be avoided, as they are bad for their teeth. It is very important to ensure that a supply of fresh water is always available.
Hedgehogs spend the winter in hibernation, as they are unable to find sufficient food outside in the cold weather. Younger animals may be at risk if they have been unable to build up sufficient reserves to keep them alive. Those over 1lb.in weight will probably survive, and should be left alone, but those weighing less are unlikely to live unless taken indoors, given plenty to eat (see section on food), and kept warm. A suitable place could be a large box lined with hay, crumpled paper or dried leaves. If the hedgehog is very young, place a hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket at the bottom of the box. Once they have reached a weight of 1-1.5lbs., hedgehogs can be released into the wild during a spell of mild, dry weather.
Adult hedgehogs hibernate for short periods during the coldest weather. They may not enter hibernation until December and become active again in March or April.
Individuals may be seen during this time as they briefly emerge in a spell of warmer weather.
The female makes a nest of grass, well hidden in the undergrowth. She has 2 - 4 babies that are born naked, with closed eyes. She suckles them and they grow quickly. They leave the nest after about 3 weeks and become independent.
Hedgehogs visit several gardens within an area - and as many as 10 different individuals may visit the same garden over a period of several nights, so the hedgehog you see in the garden may not be the same every time. Most wild hedgehogs have fleas, but these only live on hedgehogs, and cannot be transferred to cats, dogs, or humans.
The hedgehog is a very noisy animal and can be heard crashing through the undergrowth or snuffling in ditches on quiet nights. To encourage hedgehogs (and other wildlife), leave some wild areas in the garden, and avoid 'tidying up' too much. Leave plenty of dead leaves in which they can hibernate - and always check before starting bonfires, in case a hedgehog is sheltering there.
Don't use slug pellets. These are poisonous to hedgehogs and many other animals. Injured hedgehogs should be taken to the nearest RSPCA centre or vet. It is quite safe to pick up a hedgehog - but be sure to wear gloves! Hedgehogs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, so it is illegal to trap or kill them.
Hedgehogs have the most similar fingerprints to humans.