'I'm hoping it helps' - A look inside North Walsham's hedgehog haven
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
In the early evening, while the hedgehogs are still sleeping, Marian Grimes prepares their food.
The 65-year-old spends about half an hour arranging portions of cat and dog biscuits which she then takes to her shed, where there are currently about 30 to 40 of the animals.
Nine years ago, Ms Grimes set up a rescue centre called Hedgehog Haven at her house in North Walsham.
She looks after the hedgehogs over the winter until they have reached hibernation weight before releasing them back into the wild in mid-March.
People from all over the area take in hedgehogs which are not big enough to survive the winter, or have been injured.
"My latest one came in about three days ago," Ms Grimes says on Wednesday (January 12). "It's a very small one for this time of year, who would not have survived the winter if it wasn't taken in."
Hedgehogs normally don't go into deep hibernation until January, after four or five nights of hard frost. Until then they dip in and out of the state, sleeping for three or four days before waking up again to find food.
She started taking care of hedgehogs in 2013.
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"I found one out during the day and for some reason I thought, 'That's not right, it shouldn't be out'," she says.
She took the animal to her friend, Sandra Craske, who at the time was running a hedgehog rescue centre in Erpingham.
As it was busy at the centre, Ms Craske asked if Ms Grimes could look after the hedgehog herself.
"It grew from there," Ms Grimes says.
Whenever there was not enough space at the Erpingham centre, Ms Grimes would look after some of the hedgehogs, Ms Craske having taught her how to do injections and use a microscope to look for parasites.
Back then, she was a hairdresser. Her days began at 5.30am when she would check on the hedgehogs before going to work. They were busy days but she has since retired.
"Now I can do it at my own leisure," she says.
When she started the haven, it was based in her conservatory. "There were hedgehogs everywhere until we got the shed," she says.
"For me it's not work. I suppose I must enjoy it or I wouldn't do it. I'm hoping it helps, because they are in such bad decline.
"It's so rewarding when one goes back to the wild, when it has survived and you know it wouldn't have done otherwise," she says.
For more information, visit the Hedgehog Haven's Facebook page.
Marian's top tips for looking after hedgehogs
- If you can, leave one corner of your garden undisturbed and uncultivated.
- Leave out a dish of shallow water at night.
- If you would like to leave out food, the best option is a shallow dish of dry cat or dog biscuits.
- Hedgehogs can swim but if you have a pond, leave a slope in it so they can climb back out.
- Please check long grass before using strimmers or mowers in your garden.
- Make a hedgehog highway by leaving a gap in your garden fence or hedge, as they can travel from up one and a half miles at night looking for food.