ANIMAL lover Ailie Hill has saved more than 500 cute pricklies after finding a hedgehog stuck in a cattle grid and nursing it back to health.
The 43-year-old was so captivated by the spiky creature it inspired her to study hedgehog first aid, care and rehabilitation before setting up her own hospital.
Ailie runs Pricklebums Hedgehog Rescue from her summer house in Ludlow, Shropshire. Her work is entirely self funded and she’s assisted by five volunteers and supported by her local vet.
Hedgehogs have been voted our favourite mammal in endless polls and Ailie wants to raise awareness of the dangers they face.
The former teaching assistant, who recently won the Unexpected category in Cuprinol and Channel 4’s Shed of the Year, explained: “The most common injuries are from car accidents, garden strimmers and being bitten by dogs.
“The wounds can become infected and this can be agonising. They also suffer bacterial and parasite infections from eating slugs and snails.
“And we see terrible injuries from hedgehogs burnt in bonfires too so we would ask people to check before lighting them.”
The very poorly hogs have intensive care treatment in Ailie’s kitchen which is equipped with incubators and microscopes to assess infections, and once they are well enough they move to an indoor rabbit hutch.
Once stable, they move into the summer house and recover in stackable dog carriers fitted with heat pads, then they acclimatise in outdoor pens before being released into the wild.
Ailie often microchips them to track their progress and to identify trends with injuries or illnesses in specific areas with the aim of preventing them in future.
Her long term goal is a purpose built hospital. She said: “I’d love to have a veterinary room with an operating table, a general anaesthetic machine and X ray equipment.
“We raise as much money as possible, but we struggle and need support. As a nation, we love hedgehogs and we would hate for them to become extinct.
“But the population is dropping and this could happen.”
To help hedgehogs, Ailie says we should encourage them into our gardens and provide feeding stations.
Hedgehog food can be bought from pet shops and they can eat cat and dog food too. Giving them milk makes them poorly so putting out water is best, and leaving an area of the garden to grow wild enables them to build their own homes.
Ailie urges gardeners not to put down slug pellets and to check before using forks or strimmers.
Dog owners should put them on leads when they go to the loo in gardens late at night as this is the most likely time they will pick up hedgehogs.
Ailie says: “These are simple things we can do to preserve these creatures and ensure they are around for future generations.”
To find out more about her work or to donate, visit https://www.facebook.com/pricklebumshedgehogrescue/
A version of this story appeared on Mirror Online and you can read it here.
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