We recently had an unusual looking patient arrive at the hospital, the ball of clay (pictured below) could easily have been mistaken for nothing more than …… well just a ball of clay. However once examined further you could just make out a few spikes protruding from the mass of mud, which means it must a hedgehog that has got into a spot of bother.
The hedgehog was discovered by a very curious dog in a garden, on approach the little hog immediately went into his defence mode and rolled into a ball which then unfortunately made the dog even more curious. Once in a ball the dog persisted to roll the hedgehog in the wet clay ground, causing the mud to become lodged into his spines to then turn into something completely unrecognisable.
The dog owner noticed the dog playing with the clay ball and went to investigate, on further inspection the owner realised that the ball was breathing. Fortunately, the owner was an animal lover and familiar with our charity, so without hesitation rushed the hedgehog to us. On arrival we warmed the hedgehog up and started to wash him, but he then began to get very grumpy so we got the worst of the clay off and left him to rest, sleep and warm up in an incubator overnight.
The following morning the mud had dried, so the hospital staff and volunteers could then easily pick off the remaining mud that was stuck to his spines. Once all the clay was removed the hedgehog was given a health check and it was agreed that apart from feeling a bit grumpy, he had no permanent injuries. He is now doing well, eating plenty of tinned dog food and expected to make a full recovery. He has since been released to a lovely family where he will be looked after during his ‘soft release’, where he will climatise to his new surroundings, then live a natural life in the wild where he belongs (hopefully without any further encounters with dogs.)
This story is an important message to walkers that if they see a hedgehog or another wildlife creature in distress to get in touch with your local animal rescue centre. It is a privilege to care for this little hog and the many others we treat, given that the species is in such devastating decline.