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Hedgehog portrait

Bats, owls, deer, kingfisher and hedgehogs are just a few of the awesome wildlife that can be seen regularly (ish) around Burley in Wharfedale. I’d wager that the dog walkers of Burley probably get more sightings than most.

Last year while walking our dog Alfie around the village, he discovered a very young hedgehog stranded in the local car park. It was clearly injured and distressed. We ran back to the house and grabbed the gardening gloves along with a large box and took the little fella straight to Ashlands Veterinary Centre. They took him in, referred him to a hedgehog carer and that was that. I left the vets feeling I had done the right thing and had experienced an extraordinary wildlife encounter. What I didn’t expect, was to have a similar situation just a year later!

Rescued baby hedgehog

It was an exceptionally hot day in August and the walk with Alfie on the moor had mostly consisted of him lying in the cool stream while I tried to photograph the red kites that occasionally flew overhead. On our return home, as I drove our Skoda into our street, I immediately stopped the car short of the house.  In front of our doorstep was a young hedgehog. Abandoning the car where it stood, I grabbed my camera and got a marvelous face to face encounter.

While photographing this exquisite creature it became obvious that it was disorientated and at real risk of either being run-over or becoming a cat’s lunch. I decided to give him some rest-bite from the heat, traffic and felines by taking the little critter into the house.

After a little rest in a darkened box with some water and crushed cat biscuits, I took this impromptu hedgehog house over the road and across the green. Away from the cars, sun and hungry cats but still close enough to find it’s bearings I released my newly found pal in an area full of foliage and dead leaves so it could feel safe and sheltered until an hour more civilised for hedgehogs.

Rather than take the hedgehog to the vet or rescue centre, I decided to release it because it seemed to be in pretty good shape (other than needing some shelter and water, away from the immediate dangers of the cars and pets). I also believed it better to make the release as close to the area it was found, without too much time passing.

If you find a hedgehog the best thing to do is leave it where it is and appreciate it. But if you think the hedgehog maybe in distress or in danger you should visit this web page offering excellent advice from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s website.

Just before the release I let some of the kids on the street take a look, the hoping it would spark some enthusiasm for our local wildlife and I’m sure it worked, who doesn’t love hedgehogs?! I smiled to hear reports of the children saying “today the nature dude rescued a hedgehog“.