The inspiration for Shepperton Hedgehog Sanctuary was born in 2014 when my dog, Holly, found a litter of tiny orphaned hedgehogs under our garden decking. Caring for these animals and researching the problem of hedgehog decline opened my eyes to the severity of the hedgehog population crisis and drove me to want to care for more hedgehogs in need.
My journey started by attending a course in hedgehog first aid, care and rehabilitation at Vale Wildlife Hospital. This fantastic course gave me the confidence to proceed with the sanctuary, and I’ve learnt and continue to learn a wealth of knowledge about this much loved but steeply declining garden favourite.
In 2015, in order to increase the number of hedgehogs I could care for, I constructed a purpose-built annexe on the side of my house where I could keep sick and injured hogs and the supplies needed to look after them. Since then, Shepperton Hedgehog Sanctuary has saved hundreds of hedgehogs and released them back into the wild.
We are a self-funded organisation, founded by Sharon Johnson and run with the help of 4 volunteers. Our aim is to slow the rapid decline of hedgehogs, including by encouraging and educating local people on topics including supplementary feeding and making gardens hedgehog-friendly. We provide important care for hedgehogs of all ages and sizes. Some of our patients just need some warmth, fluids and food for a while and then go straight back into the wild, others will stay with us for longer, and in autumn, young juveniles who won't survive the winter stay with us over their hibernation period and are released in the spring.
Hedgehogs in our care range from tiny babies to adults, and reasons for admission include parasites, broken limbs, blindness, strimmer injuries, poisoning, dog attacks and magpie pecks. We are particularly busy in April and May, when hedgehogs are starting to wake up from hibernation and are very thin. When hedgehogs are back in good health we release them back to the area they were found. This is important as hedgehogs can harbour parasites, which we do not want to introduce to uninfected areas of the UK.
Due to the strains on general wildlife hospitals, many of them will rarely perform surgery on injured or unwell hedgehogs to help them improve, and will often euthanise them. Therefore, the efforts of our sanctuary are vital in conserving this species and supporting hedgehog rehabilitation. Since our opening we are proud to have cared for hundreds of hedgehogs, thanks to your kind donations.
Unfortunately, two other local sanctuaries closed in 2018, one of which had nearly 100 hedgehogs in its care. These losses have increased pressure on smaller sanctuaries like ours, making your donations all the more appreciated. If you have the facilities and are able to do so, we would like to strongly encourage you to consider taking in some hedgehogs in need and starting a hedgehog rehabilitation centre or sanctuary of your own. It's incredibly rewarding work and can make such a difference. You can read more about this here. If you would like to help but can’t take the job on yourself, a donation via the links on our website would be gratefully received as we are not a registered charity and are totally self funded.
There are many costs associated with running a hedgehog sanctuary that you may not have even thought about. For example, medicine in the quantities needed for hedgehogs is very hard to come by, so we have to purchase medicine for larger animals like cows, which is expensive and often wasteful, but we have no other option. Hibernation cages for hedgehogs are also expensive, costing around £450 new.
Shepperton Hedgehog Sanctuary is entirely self-funded, so all donations are incredibly valuable to us. You can help support us by donating some money, or buy purchasing something from our Amazon wish list. We are very grateful for all donations, no matter how small. Thank you for your generosity.