Photo Gallery: Dedicated woman sets up Waveney Valley’s very own Hog-spital!
When a few tiny hedgehogs arrived on Anna Hunter’s doorstep looking for food and a place to stay, the caring animal lover knew she had to help.
Now, a few years later and with an ever-increasing number of hedgehogs seeking refuge, her home, outside Harleston, has been transformed into a voluntary hospital – or hog-spital – for the creatures.
The dedicated 34-year-old first developed a soft spot for the animals after rescuing her first hedgehog when she was six.
A few years ago, she heard bottles rattling and went outside to discover a hedgehog trying to get to the milk.
After going online to find out more about what she should do, she started putting out water for them at night – and noticed more hedgehogs were dropping by for a drink.
So she could care for them properly, she went on a course run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to learn about rehabilitation and first aid.
She set up a Facebook page – the Waveney Valley Hogspital – to let people know she could care for them and took in 16 over the previous winter. She is helped by volunteer Claire Everard, of Diss.
However, she is now caring for hedgehogs all year round and is appealing for more people in and around the area to build up a much-needed network of hedgehog carers.
Currently Miss Hunter gets up in the middle of the night to feed the tiniest hoglets, as they need nourishment every four hours.
Her partner, Justin Clarke, works from home and steps in for feeds during the day. When he is not around, she takes them to work with her so they can be fed.
The Britten-Pears Foundation, in Aldeburgh, where she works, is supportive of her work because of the organisation’s strong conservation ethos. However, she has warned that it is a huge undertaking that already leaves her stretched.
“The decline in hedgehogs has been massive and everyone needs to be aware that they need help,” she said. “I work full-time so it’s quite a demand. However, when you get a phone call about a hedgehog you can’t leave it until the next day – you have to have a network of people ready to help.”
Even little things such as creating gaps in fences, so hedgehogs could access their natural habitat, might help prevent the need for as many to be rescued, she said.
While most people believe cars are the biggest danger to hedgehogs, cutting off their access to natural habitat is often the biggest threat.
Miss Hunter’s goal is to build up their strength so they can be returned to their natural habitat.
• Visit www.hogspital.co.uk or search for Waveney Valley Hogspital on Facebook.
• Have you got a story about animals? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.