A tiny hoglet the size of a thumb has been nursed back to health and now been released thanks to the dedication and love of Chris Legg, who has made looking after sick and injured hedgehogs her life’s mission.
Chris opened Prickly Prickles Hedgehog Rescue in Dorchester in 2019 and since then has taken in some 400 hedgehogs, although Chris has been nursing sick and injured hedgehogs long before then.
But when this tiny little mite was found on a farm and taken to Prickly Prickles Rescue, Chris knew this would be one of her hardest hand rearing hedgehog journeys.
“When I saw how small he was and I weighed him, he registered just 18g, the size of a thumb, a pink skinned, white spined, wafer-thin baby. And I called him Pea Pod. He stole my heart.
“The next few weeks I knew were going to be challenging, babies this small need their mum to feed and toilet them. I had to take over and do all I could to keep him alive.
“It was the hourly feeds and to toilet him which were the most exhausting.”
“Night and day, syringing him small amounts of puppy formula, and being so small and delicate, you have to be so careful not to overload his tummy, or for him to take the formula into his lungs.
Chris said: “This little Pea needed all the help he could get, and it was now up to me to make sure he got all the help he needed even if it meant many sleepless nights.
“Pea had to be kept warm on a fluffy heat pad, to replicate his mum’s fluffy belly on his skin. And the warmth of my hand he loved too. He was just so cute.
“Every day was a new day not knowing if he would make it. With babies this small not having their mum, many don’t survive.
“As the days went by, Pea was responding well to his feeds, so the next step was two-hourly feeds and toileting.”
Pea changed rapidly, and in just eight days his skin changed colour, his eyes were more prominent but not yet opened and his whiskers began to grow. As the days passed Pea gained weight and began to look like a little hedgehog. His eyes opened, he started getting all his fur and new spines and his little feet and claws were developing.
“He was just adorable,” said Chris.
“Pea gave me a feeling of such an achievement, and I felt so proud to have saved his life and see him grow up to be a beautiful boy weighing 960g. He was now Pea Podge.”
Despite Chris becoming very attached to Pea, she vowed from the start that if she nursed him to health, he would have the freedom of the wild, in his natural habitat. The time had come.
Chris said: “Pea was released in my garden where he can roam. There are several highways and hog houses if he wants to stay around although he can go where he wants. Pea would never have been a pet because no wild hedgehog should be kept as one. Just enjoy them visiting your gardens and feel it is a privilege if they do so.
“Keep them fed and watered and provide sheltered places they can nest in. There always help and advice from rescue centres if you have any concern for any hog.”
Prickly Prickles Rescue, which is self-funding, is based at Chris’ home in Dorchester where she has a well-equipped hospital shed at the bottom of the garden.
Chris is able to keep it going thanks to the generosity and kindness of people who donate to Prickly Prickles, which allows Chris to give her charges the daily care they need. Some hedgehogs stay days, while others might stay for months before they are well enough to be released.
n If you would like to donate email Chris at pricklyprickles@
hotmail.com or ring her on 07747 344042.
Chris added: “Donations and help would be very much appreciated.”