The small village of Hornton celebrated the May day bank holiday Monday with stalls, Maypole dancing and of course, hedgehogs!
For the past several weeks residents of Hornton have been working in conjunction with Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue to release previously sick, weak or injured hedgehogs back into the wild.
Ran by Brian and Janette Scott the Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue charity can care for up to 19 hedgehogs at any one time although typically it numbers less than ten,
The hedgehogs are found by people in their gardens and are vulnerable to a host of injuries from vehicles, garden machinery and other animals.
Ms Scott said; “Sometimes people find them in their gardens during the day and they are not looking very well so they get in touch with us. Injured ones we get, which is pretty obvious if they are injured. We get a lot of car injuries. It’s not so much the car has run over them but they get blown into the curb and get injured that way.”
Despite the tough spiny exterior and ability to curl up into a tight ball to protect their soft underbellies hedgehogs are coming under increasing attack from one of the countrysides top predators.
Ms Scott explains; “We get a lot with rear leg injuries which we think is the result of fox attacks. Foxes never used to attack hedgehogs but for some bizarre reason a lot of rescuers are finding that it is happening. The fox will nudge the hedgehog and it will freeze and ball up. It will wait until it thinks it is quiet and the fox will wait behind it and when it unrolls grab it by its rear legs and throws it.”
One of the villagers who has joined the scheme is Chris Woodcock who, along with 11 others have set up feeding stations in an attempt to keep the released hedgehogs from moving out of the area.
Ms Woodcock said; “We have released nine hedgehogs into the village, both male and female and we have a network of 12 feeding stations in the village that helps the hedgehogs cluster around the village and hopefully breed,”
The plan for Hornton is to eventually release 30 or so of the animals to provide a large and healthy gene pool within which the population can grow.
Hedgehogs give birth to two litters a year, one in the spring and again in the autumn and it is these late year arrivals that are most at risk as the mother will often abandon them in order to hibernate.
Ms Woodcock said about the hedgehogs so far released into the village; “They are autumn juveniles that have been found out and bewildered. If you see them during the day that time of year something is wrong because they are nocturnal.”
In order to assist hedgehogs in your area Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue suggest that you make small holes in garden fences to enable them to roam and put out dry cat or dog food along with fresh water. Bread and milk should be avoided at all costs as hedgehogs cannot digest lactose found in cows milk and it can be fatal.
For more information on how you or your village can help return hedgehogs to the wild visit warwickshirehedgehogrescue.org.