ANDY will be in for a shock when his diet changes from sweet treats to slugs and snails.
For this spoiled young hedgehog turns his little black nose up at all the usual foods hedgehogs enjoy – and refuses to eat anything except fairy cakes.
Not for him the bowls of dead meal worms or jellied cat food that all the other hedgehogs live on at Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue, based just outside Longframlington.
After trying him out on everything she had, Carole Catchpole who runs the centre found he would only eat cake.
But all that is about to change as he gets released back into the wild following the arrival of spring weather. Carole is now in the process of releasing more than 100 hedgehogs which were brought to her over the winter months, either because they were starving or badly injured.
And Andy the hedgehog, from Otterburn, will have to wean himself off the little sponges and get used to eating whatever insects he can find now that he’s been nursed back to health.
Carole said she did find his cake habit a little strange.
She said: “Absolutely – but I don’t blame him. I’ve got a sweet tooth myself so I can see where he’s coming from. I’m with him on that.
“I don’t mind at all that he enjoys his fairy cake. It’s like humans – if you don’t want to eat, a bit of sweetness encourages you. Now that he’s going back to the wild all he’ll have is slugs and snails and worms so it’ll be quite a different diet all together, so I hope he’s enjoyed his time with us. I’m sure he has.”
She has six locations where she releases them at night, provided the weather is right. With dropping hedgehog populations a concern in the UK, she also entrusts a handful of caring farmers to release a few to increase the gene pool in different areas.
Throughout the winter, people across the North East took injured or dying hedgehogs to Carole. She pays for the whole operation herself out of her pension, with rows of rabbit hutches one on top of the other in her garage.
From veterinary bills, to medication, to heat pads not to mention 14 tins of cat food a day, 100kg of dry food a month and 10kg of mealworms – she pays out £8-10,000 a year – all from her pension apart from a few donations.
The work doesn’t stop now for Carole, who’ll soon be taking in baby hedgehogs which have lost their mothers.
Anyone who can offer any much-needed time, money or supplies can contact her on 01665 570650.