Hedgehog houses upgraded with Microchip Cat Flaps
13th February 2020
Jennifer Woodward has been using our Microchip Cat Flaps to help protect and manage the hedgehogs that she rescues and houses until they are well or old enough to be released back into the wild. We got in touch with her to find out more about her hedgehog rescue service and how the cat flaps are helping the hedgehogs in her care.
Our rescue started four and a half years ago, with eight indoor rabbit cages stacked up to the ceiling in our kitchen. We overwintered nine hedgehogs in 2016 and on average have around 50 hedgehogs in our care at any given time.
I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia (a chronic nervous system disorder) and have been suffering with it for around two years now. Summer 2019 saw my condition reach its peak. I could no longer continue running the rescue by myself and now rely heavily on fosterers.
We rely solely on donations and support from the public and with each hedgehog costing around £5 per week, it's a costly crusade. We receive no government funding and I provide the majority of care myself, using my RSPCA background and knowledge to keep costs to a minimum. It is necessary at times to use vets for things like amputations, which can cost in excess of £300. Butcher's pet care support me heavily with food donations, which makes a massive difference.
The overwintered hedgehogs come in as juveniles around November. They are usually too young to cope without a parent and not big enough to survive the winter on their own. At the point that they come into care they are usually near death. Hedgehogs shouldn't be seen by people and when they are, it's normally at a point that they are in dire need. Once they reach a stable condition and weight (around 1kg) they are ready to move into outdoor enclosures. In previous years I've used wooden rabbit houses or hutches to keep them in. This causes all sorts of problems with not only mixing up who's who (I try to release each hedgehog back to where it came from) but also with vermin. So, we built an outdoor enclosure to solve the vermin issue and I decided to start microchipping the hedgehogs to keep track of the high numbers we have passing through our rescue. I also wanted to microchip the hedgehogs so I can see if we have ‘repeat offenders’. Then, if I’ve cared for them previously, I will know their age, where and how far they've been travelling, as well as their medical history.
The cat flaps are especially important in the houses I have designed to give protection to the likes of our blind, long-term hedgehog and to prevent overcrowding in any one house. It has taken the hogs no time at all to figure out the cat flaps. They are inquisitive creatures that use their noses to guide them and generally bang into things! I've found the whole mission a complete success.