One Voice for Animals UK Guest Blog by Rachel Brown
Guest Blogger Rachel Brown runs a Hedgehog rescue in Norfolk.
Rachel tells us how it all started
"I’ve been helping hogs since 2012 and it’s been a life changing ‘hobby’ so I thought I’d write a blog about how I started. Who knows, it might inspire one of you to open up your own ‘hotel’ 🤔
We found a small hedgehog in our garden in July 2012 and not knowing anything about hedgehogs put her in a shady place with some water and cat biscuits.
My friend Karen in Welney, had been a hedgehog rescuer for years although I’d not really appreciated all that she did. We took the hoglet to Karen but sadly she didn’t make it. 😭
I set about reading everything I could on the subject of hedgehogs. Thank goodness for the internet .😂 Got myself a wildlife camera and by the following summer was completely hooked on hogs 😆
By 2014, I’d released several rehabilitated hogs from Karen in our garden and with her encouragement, advice and practical help, I started the slow process of turning our front room into the ‘hotel’ buying cages and heat pads. Little did I know then how these endearing, endangered creatures would take over our lives.
Roll onto October 2015 when Mark discovered two small female hoglets in our garden one afternoon, the following day we found two more 🦔🦔🦔🦔. They weighed just over 100g each. With advice and support from Karen, we successfully nurtured and released all four the following spring. What a sense of achievement that was - we were hooked 😂❤️. Next stage was to get a microscope and get trained up.
There’s an amazing wildlife hospital called Vale in Gloucestershire that run the only BHPS recognised Hedgehog Carer & First Aid course so in 2016 both Mark and I finally attended. It’s always booked up well in advance but worth waiting for. It was a truly inspiring course and we learned so much. To this day, I still ask Caroline, the founder of Vale, random questions via email and feel truly supported by her.
As my little hobby took off, it was time to admit we would never have our front room back 🤔 and we would never go on holiday again 😐. It was now time to get organised.
I kept it low key for several years whilst watching other rescues getting overwhelmed by the demand which was rather frightening if I’m honest. I’ll never forget visiting my friend Suzanne and seeing hogs in cages everywhere.. I was blown away by her commitment. I decided to try and ‘evolve’ slowly.
By December 2019, I realised I needed a name and dedicated social media pages separate from my personal ones. So, Ryston Rachel’s was officially launched. I decided to be a Hedgehog ‘Hotel’ to promote the idea that the hogs only come here for a short stay before returning to the wild. As I’ve learnt more about hogs and their plight my ethos has evolved and will always be Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release. For me the whole point of doing this is to boost the wild population.
Since 2019 ,demand for the hotel has boomed and I am fortunate to now have a big group of fosterers that are equally smitten with hogs. Some have even learnt how to give injections, others are now ‘specialists’ at dealing with skin problems... ❤️❤️ All of which has helped me enormously.
Lucky for me I found a fabulous new vet who has encouraged and supported me so much in the past year. I don’t know what I would do without Sophie, not forgetting her kind colleague Claire.
Into 2020, and my kind friend Emma took the big step up from fosterer to hotel owner 🥳
I can’t express how much gratitude I have for all the gang of fosterers and as for Emma... well there are just no words to adequately convey my joy at her enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to have her life completely taken over by all things hedgehog. She has inspired me to push forward and help more hogs than ever before. #teamwork
If you would like to Support Ryston Rachel's Hedgehog hotel, you can do so HERE
One Voice for Animals UK has a rescue directory of almost 300 organisations that need support. If you enjoyed this blog, head over and find your local rescue and make a donation