Hornton hedgehogs head to Shakespeare’s homestead

Sonny the hedgehog was released over Easter in Stratford NNL-170417-124114001

Sonny the hedgehog was released over Easter in Stratford NNL-170417-124114001

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Hedgehogs fostered in Hornton have made their debut in Stratford this Easter, having been released at the former home of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway.

Sonny, the first of two young hedgehog brothers, fostered by Hornton couple Steve and Chris Woodcock, was released back into the wild over the holiday period joining a colony of hogs being introduced at the Shottery historic house, once the courting ground of the Bard himself.

Steve Woodcock holds Sonny hedgehog as he and Kyra Barboutis prepare to introduce him to the woodland hog hotel at Anne Hathaway's Cottage. NNL-170420-122338001

Steve Woodcock holds Sonny hedgehog as he and Kyra Barboutis prepare to introduce him to the woodland hog hotel at Anne Hathaway's Cottage. NNL-170420-122338001

Mr Woodcock said: “For the second year running, our foster hogs have came to us from Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue.

“This time we’ve over-wintered a pair of siblings, called Ellis and Sonny. Ellis is still hibernating, despite the recent warmer weather, but Sonny hasn’t slept at all and has eaten his way through the winter to reach a hefty and healthy 1,200 grams.

He added: “He is keen to get active and this is an ideal woodland habitat in which he can start his new life.”

Sonny is the fifteenth hog to make its permanent home at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage this spring. The Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue (WHR) charity has teamed up with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and its head of gardens, Glyn Jones, to release batches of happy hogs and form a colony of around 30 animals, an ideal size to encourage a diverse gene pool and breed new generations.

A close-up of Sonny before he heads off for his new life in the country NNL-170420-122538001

A close-up of Sonny before he heads off for his new life in the country NNL-170420-122538001

As part of a national bid to restore UK hedgehog populations, the WHR team also supported the set-up of a similar hog colony in Hornton in 2016.

WHR’s Brian Scott says: “It’s all looking very promising. To keep the hogs thriving through this summer, we have reminded villagers to lay off using poisonous slug pellets and make sure ponds have some kind of rock or step, so hedgehogs can escape if they fall in.”