18, December, 2020
Not all heroes wear capes; some are just normal people, doing their bit to give the nation’s hoggies a helping hand. There are many people in the Spike’s community that go above and beyond to keep hedgehogs safe and they certainly deserve a bit of recognition for all of their hard work. We’re delighted to announce that Catherine Jones, of Rugby, has been named our Hedgehog Hero for December. Read on to find out all about her journey as a hedgehog foster carer.
How did you first become interested in hedgehogs?
Last summer, I noticed my (very sweet and friendly) Labradoodle, Daisy, sniffing at something in the grass. As I got closer, I realised it was a hedgehog! I hadn’t seen one before and quickly googled what I should do. I left out some dog biscuits and some wet food (it was all we had) and left the hog alone. Our hedgehog kept returning and it was so exciting for me and my daughter, Violet. I started researching hedgehogs, how they live and what we can do to help them- it was at this time I realised just how vulnerable they are and I felt that I had to do something more to help rather than just feeding our new spiky friend.
What do you think is the best thing about hedgehogs?
I LOVE their fluffy underskirts! When you think of a hedgehog, you think of a prickly creature but they have this adorable fluff on the underside of their body. When you have the honour of seeing them up close, you realise just how beautiful and unique they are.
What can we all do to promote hedgehog welfare?
There are so many things you can do! You can promote hedgehog highways between gardens, encourage people to leave out food and water and educate others on how vulnerable hedgehogs really are. Can you imagine if hedgehogs became extinct? How awful to think that they might and that we could have done more to save them. I think education and engagement are the most helpful things we can do, and I try to do what I can via Social Media.
How did you start your journey as a hedgehog foster carer?
I contacted Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue online originally to see if we could act as an enclosed garden for hedgehogs following soft release. I was put in touch with a lovely lady called Lynda who runs the rescue where I live (in Rugby) and she suggested I become a foster carer instead. We have a couple of sheds in our garden and some spare guinea pig cages – Lynda came to have a look round and approved us as foster carers, and away we went!
What does a typical day look like for a foster carer?
First thing in the morning, I take a look in the shed (affectionately nicknamed ‘Hedgehog Towers’) to check everything is okay, i.e. the hogs have enough food and water. They are usually asleep at this time so I leave them in peace. At 18:00, I go in and clean out the cages, change the newspaper (that lines the cages), check their bedding isn’t too dirty and wash out their food and water bowls. I then gently and quietly lift them from their nests and weigh them to make sure that they are gaining weight at a steady rate (weight loss can be indicative of something sinister). This is when I get a little glimpse of their little wet noses- my favourite part! Sometimes my partner, Phil, helps me out- he’s the one taking the photos and videos for my Instagram, Cookies House Hedgehog Foster Care.
Do you do any fundraising to raise money for hedgehogs?
Not yet, but I run an online cross-stitch shop and am planning to design some hedgehog patterns to sell and donate 100% of the profits to our precious hedgehogs, so watch this space!
Do you have any other plans for hedgehog welfare on the horizon?
I’d love to get involved with educating and engaging others about hedgehogs and what we can all do to help them- maybe at schools. I try and do my bit by encouraging friends and family to support our local hedgehogs, but I need a bigger audience!
What do you think the future looks like for hedgehogs?
Quite frankly, it looks very bleak if we continue to destroy their habitats by building over them, trimming back the hedgerows and by continuing to pump their food (slugs, snails) full of poison. We also all need to be a lot more careful when driving, as hedgehogs are known for crossing busy roads. When so much in our lives is out of control, people need to realise how much of a difference they can make to the future of hedgehogs with small actions like leaving a small dish of water in their garden. Hedgehogs have a very tricky time of it all, but we can make a difference. There are so many people out there who dedicate their time to the protection of these animals, I hope our actions are not in vain.
Congratulations Catherine on being named our second Hedgehog Hero on behalf of the entire team here at Spike’s! If you’d like to find out more about Catherine’s journey and what it takes to be a hedgehog foster carer, you can follow her on Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/cookieshousehedgehogfostercare/