Thorne Hedgehog Rescue Centre in Ashford

It’s that time of year again when the leaves are crackling, the pumpkin spice is frothing, and the bonfires are waiting to be lit. But while we’re all preparing to hunker down for the winter, what about the hedgehogs that traditionally will be going into hibernation soon?

Thorne Hedgehog Rescue is a new venture, opened this summer by Lisa Steward, another tireless soul working day and night to protect and rescue Ashford’s hedgehogs. Lisa has volunteered at animal rescues since she was 12 years old, and has a degree in Wildlife Conservation. After she and her son found a hedgehog in need and realised there were very few rescues catering to hedgehogs in the Ashford area and further south, she trained with two other hedgehog rescues and set up Thorne Hedgehog Rescue to meet the need herself.

When we asked Lisa what the greatest threats facing hedgehogs are, she told us, “Loss of habitat – the removal of hedgerows, small fields, and woodland along with tidy gardens, decking and paving have resulted in a decline of the mixed vegetation and fallen leaves that hedgehogs thrive in.


Find out how to make your garden Hedgehog friendly


“Hedgehogs travel two to three miles a night. Connectivity between gardens is very important. A 13cm by 13cm hole in your fencing allows hedgehogs to travel the distances needed for food and mates. New developments have to incorporate hedgehog highways but those approved and built before they were listed as vulnerable to extinction, do not. The thousands of new homes bring more roads to cross and more cars to kill them.

“Chemical use – hedgehogs do eat slugs, snails, and worms but are also insectivores. Pesticide use in farming and gardening results in a lack of food, and where there is still a good supply, hedgehogs eat so many that chemicals can build up inside them.

“Other hazards are litter (elastic bands and plastic can holders, especially), garden netting, ponds with no escape, cold, fires, flood, and nest disturbance during hibernation and hoglet season.”

 

You should always call a rescue if you see a hedgehog that appears to be sleeping or “sunbathing” out in the open, or if it is injured, covered in flies, is under 600g by late November/December. You should especially call for advice if you find any abandoned babies.

 

Running the rescue is expensive, but there are plenty of options if you want to support the rescue. Lisa has a JustGiving page and an Amazon wish list if you would like to donate or purchase useful items, and the rescue also accepts food donations dropped off in person – wet and dry hedgehog food and poultry-based cat food are perfect. Lisa is also looking for volunteers to help out, so get in touch by email ([email protected]) or through their Facebook page @thornehedgehogrescuecentre if this is something you would be interested in.

 

by Alice Smales

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