Hedgehogs in Distress

December 3, 2008 Updated: December 3, 2008
Hedgehogs that meander about in daylight or lie in the sun need immediate care from a veterinarian or the closest hedgehog care station. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)
Hedgehogs that meander about in daylight or lie in the sun need immediate care from a veterinarian or the closest hedgehog care station. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)

Hamburg’s Hedgehog Protection Society attends to the well being of the small prickly mammals.

Oh my! A hedgehog lies on the grass with its head to the side—during broad daylight. Is it dead?

Irmgard Brook edges closer and looks at the little animal from a closer distance. No, it’s not dead. The hedgehog walks a few steps, staggers, remains motionless, and then lies down again with its head to the side. How about something to eat little guy? He seems to love cat food. He also doesn’t seem to be injured. Most likely the hedgehog just awoke from winter hibernation and is not quite awake yet. For certain, he will move on if his strength returns.

Living quarters for hedgehogs: Hedgehog care stations have the suitable shelter for sick animals, in the lightly heated shed and wooden houses for hibernating animals. For example, outdoor enclosures are for pups, because they can learn how to build a nes (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)
Living quarters for hedgehogs: Hedgehog care stations have the suitable shelter for sick animals, in the lightly heated shed and wooden houses for hibernating animals. For example, outdoor enclosures are for pups, because they can learn how to build a nes (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)

It rains that night. The hedgehog lies just a few meters from yesterday’s place. The quills are wet and it doesn’t want to eat or drink. Ms. Brook places the hedgehog on a warm cushion in a shoe carton. Now it will be taken to Stellingen, a suburb in Hamburg, the closest hedgehog care station.

Working Late Into the Night

The Goroncy family formed the Hedgehog Protection Society Committee about ten years ago. In 2007, 342 hedgehogs were brought to this station.

Sigrun Goroncy is the head of the Hedgehog Protection Society Committee, and has been involved in the protection of hedgehogs for 32 years. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)
Sigrun Goroncy is the head of the Hedgehog Protection Society Committee, and has been involved in the protection of hedgehogs for 32 years. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)

The telephone never stops ringing. People, such as Ms. Brook with her hedgehog find, or those who have a hibernating hedgehog and need advice on how to return it to the wild, call daily on the Committee.

The couple designs informational flyers, which are published on their homepage or distributed at information booths. Daily, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., the couple works in their hedgehog care station.

It’s about 500 meters to the hedgehog protection station. One has to pass through the Goroncy’s small garden plot. This garden provides lots of insects and shelter for hedgehogs. The lawnmower will only be used to cut a trail through the blooming wilderness.

It takes the special grip shown in this photo to prevent the hedgehog from curling into a ball. The hedgehog does not keep still with everyone, during the cutting of claws. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)
It takes the special grip shown in this photo to prevent the hedgehog from curling into a ball. The hedgehog does not keep still with everyone, during the cutting of claws. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)

The property behind the garden is the hedgehog care station. It says “Hedgehog Hospital” on the front of the woodshed. Goroncy fashioned the inside into a hospital ward with 6 rooms, where every hedgehog has his fodder and sleeping carton. Other sheds, an old wardrobe on its back in the grass, an elevated wood sandbox with a cover shelter, the wooden fodder, and sleeping “houses,” are for the hibernating animals. There is also an outdoor enclosure. All of that was built by the hedgehog’s “father.” Sigrun and Heiko Goroncy have taken care of hedgehogs for 32 years. Their experience is shown in the practical construction of everything.

Cut tree stumps are used as perches by school and kindergarten children. In 2007, 86 school classes came to learn about the hedgehogs. Who would have thought that more hedgehogs are killed in a house or in a garden than on the street? For example the hedgehog can get stuck with his quills or legs in something humans left lying around, such as ribbons, cups, or other items.

Heiko Goroncy talks to Irmgard Brook about the outdoor enclosure where hedgehog families can learn to bond. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)
Heiko Goroncy talks to Irmgard Brook about the outdoor enclosure where hedgehog families can learn to bond. (Heike Soleinsky/The Epoch Times)

What is most needed for hedgehogs and should not be carded away are leaves under bushes and trees. This is the place where hedgehogs and birds find their fodder.

Hedgehogs on the Go

Sigrun Goroncy is getting one of the hedgehogs ready for release into the wild. The check-up includes a health check, ears cleaning, and cutting the claws.

Ms. Goroncy, with three fingers on the neck and one placed on the chest, prevents the hedgehog from curling into a ball. She shared that, “This is the only way to see if the hedgehog is healthy.”

The Committee for the Protection of Hedgehogs also uses the Tellington Touch, a touch that calms the animal.

Ignorance Is Poison

Just a few minutes ago, the hedgehog caregiver had to take care of a distressed hedgehog. He lay in a tick nest. Female ticks love to deposit their eggs in the sleeping nests of small animals. The caregiver removed almost 40 grey ticks. As a precaution, the insects are sent to a research center where the ticks will be checked for any diseases.

Now, Ms. Brook’s little fosterling is next. Ms. Goroncy removes with experienced hands flees, two ticks, and fly eggs from the hedgehog’s quill pelt. Maggots can eat a hedgehog alive.

Flea Powder

Some flea powder is deposited on the hedgehogs back. “Some people who find a hedgehog put flea power over the entire animal,” said the animal welfare activist. Unfortunately, the hedgehog would die by the time one opens the carton.

“This is not like powder for a baby—it is poison. The animal should not inhale this powder!” warned Ms. Goroncy.  

Regrettably, many people use poison in their yards.  The worst is the poison against snails—the one that is produced by a company in Bavaria.

Ms. Goroncy saw that from the white mucous membranes, the distressed hog has also ingested rat poison. Ms. Brooks’s hedgehog has diarrhea and is much too cold. First, he is put on an electric pillow that is heated to body temperature.

Hedgehog Staggers Around in Daylight

It is an emergency if a hedgehog staggers around during the day or lies in the sun. The animal will need urgent care from a veterinarian or needs to be taken to a hedgehog care station. If warranted, put flee powder along the spine. If the hedgehog has a cold belly, he must be put immediately on an electric pillow or a hot water bottle of about 28 degrees Centigrade, and covered with a cloth.

Leaves Are Cooling

The hedgehog diet consists of bugs, woodlouses, centipedes, and spiders. These animals generally are found in leaf piles. The hedgehog will starve in a clean yard, or he will try out things that will harm him. For example, he will eat nude slugs, which have harmful lung worms. Or he will try out the cleaning sacks whose content could harm him, or which could contain mold bacteria. Please put all garden clean up sacks on a shelf.

Rat Poison

Hedgehogs are small enough to enter rat poison boxes. These boxes should be kept at least 15 cm above ground—perhaps on 2 bricks. The best would be to hang these boxes, as hedgehogs can’t jump up like rats. Germany charges a 50 Euro (US$63.20) fine to anyone who puts rat poison without a fence or has it above ground in compost.

Read this article in the original German: http://www.epochtimes.de/articles/2008/05/13/282668.html