July 30 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Despite his 40 years’ work in wildlife conservation, these prickly little characters are the youngest hoglets Philip Bradman has ever had the pleasure of looking after.
Dumped in a box on Beccles Common, three hoglets arrived at Mr Bradman’s home in Bungay 21 days ago with their mum, followed by another special delivery two weeks later after two hoglets and their mother were found nesting under a garden shed in Worlingham.
Mr Bradman has spent the last four decades working on various wildlife projects, including as curator of the formerly named Suffolk Wildlife Park in Kessingland, and set up Bungay Wildlife Rescue from his home in 1986 as a place for people to take injured or abandoned animals.
However, he has never looked after hoglets so young, let alone two litters at the same time.
He said: “This is the first time in 40 years I have ever had them so young because you don’t normally get hedgehog rescues until the winter time. It is quite a unique experience!
“They are delightful little animals to work with and I feel it is a great pleasure to have them here. I know it is only for a short while but I have come to love them more and more.”
Mr Bradman, who is a qualified wildlife veterinary consultant, was due to go on BBC’s Springwatch with the hedgehogs to document their progress, although it was cancelled at the last minute.
Despite his disappointment, Mr Bradman is keen for people across Norfolk and Suffolk to share his magical experience and see the little hedgehogs up close.
The first arrivals are now just over three weeks old and will be ready to go back out into the wild in a fortnight.
The second litter, who have not yet opened their eyes, are just over a week old, and will stay with Mr Bradman and his partner Jane until they are five weeks old.
They will be released at Mr Bradman’s conservation centre – two acres of land at nearby Ditchingham – which, for the last 20 years, has provided a place for birds to breed and be released.
He said: “We’ve got an old Anderson shelter which is full of leaves where we will release them from so they know they have got a place to come back to get food and shelter if they need to.
“But the woodland has got plenty of bramble bushes and leaves so they can make a nest.
“They will go off with their mum and she will teach them to forage. Then after about a month they will then leave their mum and dad.”
While living at Mr Bradman’s home, the hedgehogs are kept in a nest and the mother hedgehog is fed twice a day.
He added: “I look after the mum and the mum looks after her babies.
“I feed her cooked chicken, pheasant, rabbit and a few puppy biscuits.
“Yesterday for the very first time she accepted food from my hand. She has got use to me now and she knows my smell.”
Hedgehogs can live up to 15 years old and usually have a litter of three hoglets, although only two usually survive.
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