A Dalston vet who saved the life of a baby hedgehog is calling on locals to look out for wildlife.
Laura Binnie, a vet at Paragon Veterinary Group, says everyone including children can help to make sure Cumbrian wildlife flourishes – and caring for nature is good for people too.
A member of the public brought the hedgehog to Paragon’s Dalston practice on a stormy night in October when Laura was on call.
“All too often they are brought to us in such a poor state that we can’t do anything for them, and it is kinder to put them to sleep,” says Laura.
“But happily when I opened the small shoe box what I saw gave me some hope.
“Although she was tiny and nearly comatose, and her temperature was low and she was covered in fly eggs, she had a strong heartbeat and I couldn’t find any nasty wounds or broken bones.”
Laura gave the hedgehog food and fluids, a warm bath and pain relief for some minor wounds and admitted her into the surgery’s hospital overnight.
To the surprise of the Paragon team, the next morning the hedgehog was lively and scoffed her breakfast, says Laura.
The hedgehog could not go back to the wild during winter, so Laura took her home and looked after her with help from her sons Archie, five, and Sam, three, who named the hedgehog Hedgy.
Recently, with hedgehogs all over Cumbria emerging from hibernation, Laura and her boys were able to release Hedgy in their garden.
Laura hopes Hedgy’s story will inspire Cumbrians to learn about local wildlife and help to care for it.
“I am so keen to encourage everyone in particular youngsters, to be aware of the wildlife around them and do what we can to help protect them, for their future survival – but also to benefit ourselves, as it has been shown that engaging with nature has positive effects on our wellbeing,” says Laura.
“My children have been so lucky to be able to have a hedgehog over wintering in their home, and sadly there are lots of youngsters that haven’t even seen a live hedgehog.
“I would like to get the message out there that we need to do more to look after these little guys and other wildlife to ensure their survival and biodiversity.”
Hedgehogs are declining in the UK mainly due to habitat loss and lack of safe routes to roam their territories, as well as dangers such as strimmers and slug pellets, says Laura.
“I am so grateful to the person who brought her to me that horrid stormy night,” she said.
“If they hadn’t, she would not have survived. And thanks to little Hedgy I have started on this journey to do what we can to protect them and raise awareness of their plight.”