Dorchester woman who runs her own hedgehog rescue shelter is urging everyone to be more aware of the creatures’ plight this winter.
Chris Legg, who runs the Prickly Prickles shelter from a shed in her garden, warns these ‘endearing’ creatures are in decline due to the impact of climate change and unseasonal shifts in the weather.
She is calling on people to keep an eye out for hedgehogs during the day in particular, warning this is often a sign of illness in these nocturnal creatures.
“I would love it if everyone was more hedgehog aware,” Chris said. “If you find a hedgehog out in the day, that’s not right – they’re nocturnal and are supposed to be asleep during day.
“If you find a hedgehog out in the day, take it to a rescue organisation if you can.
“If you can’t, then try to take it in and keep it wrapped up warm in a blanket in the dark.”
Chris’ love for hedgehogs began in November 2016 when she was ‘quite surprised’ to find a hedgehog out during the day.
“Sadly, he died,” Chris said. “But I found another one the next day and took him to a shelter and from then I just felt I wanted to help them.”
In 2019, Chris launched the Prickly Prickles hedgehog rescue shelter, where she sometimes has up to 20 poorly hedgehogs at a time.
“It’s all self-funded,” Chris said. “I pay for food and vet bills myself and for medicine when it’s needed.
“I’ve never put myself forward to be registered as a charity – it’s just little old me in a shed in the bottom of the garden.
“When people bring sick hedgehogs to me I never ask for money, once I take that little hedgehog in then he’s my responsibility.”
When people bring hedgehogs to Chris for help she assesses them ‘a bit like a triage’ for external parasites, injuries and wounds, as well as checking their stools for internal parasites or worms.
Chris said: “Hedgehogs take up all my down time, especially if they’re sick and I’m nursing them.
“I have a passion for them, they’re so endearing and they go through such a lot.
“Climate change is taking a toll on them, what with milder seasons that are lasting longer, followed by sudden cold snaps – it affects their lifecycles and their sleep patterns.
“They’re in decline and I want to do what I can to help them. I give them all names while they’re with me and I talk to them too, I just can’t help it.
“I think lots of rescue workers do the same – I love talking to them, I find them quite spiritual.”
n Anyone finding a sick hedgehog can contact Chris on 07747 344042 or via her Facebook page Prickly Prickles Hedgehog Rescue.