Wildlife rescuers cried for joy when their hard work to save a mum and four baby hedgehogs was successful.
Volunteers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) were called to check a female and baby hedgehogs found in a wooden store at the bottom of a garden in Nevill Road, Uckfield, on Saturday.
Householders were clearing the store when a large hedgehog and babies fell out of a rolled-up tarpaulin. Rescuers found mum huddled in the corner and some very young, lethargic and cold baby hedgehogs scattered around on a cold, bare, concrete floor.
WRAS founder Trevor Weeks said: “Looking at mum’s feet we wonder if she’d been trapped and couldn’t get out. Her nails were unusually short, worn down to the quick. She had no bedding and we think she ran out of time and had to give birth where she was.”
“When Trevor passed me the first baby I was surprised how cold he was. I tucked him down my top to keep warm. The others were just as bad and needed gently warming up,” said rescuer Kathy Martyn.
The youngsters were taken to Trevor’s Uckfield home where they were warmed up in one of his best winter jumpers. After about 15 minutes all but one of the five young started to respond so rescuers decided to try putting the four surviving babies back with mum, to see whether she would accept them after such a traumatic evening.
“To our amazement when we checked an hour later, she had moved closer to her young and they were all tucked up underneath her as if nothing had happened. It was amazing to see as hedgehogs don’t like being disturbed and are notorious at abandoning their young or even killing them when disturbed at such a young age,” explained Kathy.
Mum and babies were moved to a large hutch in a shed where they were kept in Trevor’s jumper for comfort and familiarity to settle into their new home.
Hedgehogs are thought to be declining by five per cent a year so the work of organisations like WRAS is important conservation work.