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Hedgehogs ready for life in the wild

PUBLISHED: 10:17 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:28 30 June 2010

Hedgehogs ready for life in the wild

Hedgehogs ready for life in the wild

FOR most hedgehogs, the perils of winter - with food scarce and the cold winter chills biting - are best avoided and spent in deep hibernation.

But, thanks to an animal rescue centre, one group of the spiky mammals will emerge into the wild fitter and stronger than ever.

FOR most hedgehogs, the perils of winter - with food scarce and the cold winter chills biting - are best avoided and spent in deep hibernation.

But, thanks to an animal rescue centre, one group of the spiky mammals will emerge into the wild fitter and stronger than ever.

For John and Tonia Garner who run Foxy Lodge Wildlife Rescue, which opened a year ago and runs on donations, share their specially adapted home in Newport with a wide variety of furry and feathered friends, and help care for the injured or sick.

This weekend will mark a special moment as the 18 hibernation-dodging hedgehogs, which were brought in by concerned members of the public just before the onset of winter and dangerously underweight, will be released into the gardens of animal lovers across Norfolk.

Having spent months involved with the effort to care for the animals, whether hand-rearing them with tiny milk bottles, feeding them the best in cat food or spending two hours a day clearing out their hutches, John, 50, knows they will still need care.

He said: “The hedgehogs brought in to us wouldn't have survived the winter because of their size, and as we've had to raise them by hand they've become very tame so they will still need to be fed.

“We name all of the hedgehogs as they come in, and they have kept in what used to be a bedroom to stay warm for the winter - they couldn't have hibernated and survived because of how low their weight was.”

However, he is confident they will get to grips with their natural surroundings, even if some take longer than others, and to aid them in their transition they will be settling into their new environment with specially-prepared hutches.

“The aim is for them to adjust to the wild, which is why all gardens, unless they're particularly big, have to be open so they can come and go as they please. Some will make their own nests almost straight away, while others may stay in the hutches for longer.”

John, a train signaller by day, and his wife will spend this weekend driving around dropping off the hedgehogs into gardens great and small around places like Hopton and Caister, and six will even be enjoying their time at the grounds of a religious order in Quidenham.

He said: “The person who brought the hedgehogs in knew one of the Sisters there, and though they're not allowed pets normally they heard about our hedgehogs and now the lucky six will have a three acre garden to roam in.

“You'd be amazed at how popular the idea of having a hedgehog in your garden is, and we've had plenty of offers from all round the area to care for them - they should have a bright future.”


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