What does Fostering Involve?
Hog Fostering involves feeding, cleaning out and health checking.The successful outcome of over-wintering so many of our young hedgehogs is down to the dedication and hard work of the fosterers. To ensure that the very high standards of care set by HART are maintained, it is essential for all potential fosterers to attend a training session in the autumn - these usually start in September.
The sessions are approximately 1 hour long and involve instruction on equipment needed, how to care for the hedgehogs, problems to look out for and an opportunity to ask any questions.
Hutches are thoroughly cleaned daily for the open side, the sleeping side as needed, (if you're lucky and get a hog that respects its bed, then not too often, if not then it will need to be done weekly). Fresh water and dry food needs to be left out in the morning and meat given in the evening.
A weekly health check needs to be carried out which involves weighing the hog and examining its skin and face. A daily record is kept so progress can be monitored. You will be contacted at least monthly for a report and the fostering co-ordinator is available for queries at all times.
Once the weather is good in the spring, HART arranges the release of the hedgehogs after ensuring they are fit enough for release back into the wild. This is the point where you have to say a fond farewell to your charge and return it to the hospital. It is lovely to see our fosterers with their hogs - so please take a picture as a memento and send us a copy. Every hedgehog that is fostered frees space at the hospital for another casualty and reduces the risk for us having to shut our doors to needy patients. The support of fosterers is vital to HART but it is also an immensely satisfying role as you know that you have been instrumental in ensuring the survival of one more of these endangered animals.
What Will You Need?
You will need a good sized rabbit hutch, we have a few suitable to lend out but not enough for all fosterers. Second hand hutches are acceptable if they are in good clean condition, no sharp edges, weather proof and securely lockable doors (hedgehogs are renowned escape artists). The hutch needs to be placed in a sheltered spot, a garage or shed is ideal, if not, as weather protected as possible, with a bit of carpet and thick plastic thrown over for frost/rain protection.
Below is a video of some of our hoglets from last spring!
If you would like to become a hedgehog fosterer, or would just like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us!