Prickly problem as Yvonne's quest is to protect hedgehogs

Hedgehog numbers are in decline but a former zookeeper from Rush, Co Dublin is on a mission to conserve them.

Yvonne McCann started Hedgehog Rescue Dublin in 2013 after falling into the role when someone stopped by her house with a box of baby hedgehogs because they knew she worked at Dublin Zoo.

While at the zoo, she had become involved in animal rehab with Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland.

Acupuncture

"We are now one of three main rescue organisations in Ireland," said Ms McCann.

She has recently received charity status for her rescue centre, which provides rehabilitation for hedgehogs who are the worse for wear, and includes acupuncture and hydrotherapy facilities.

"We rescue, rehabilitate and release - that's our motto," she told the Herald.

Ms McCann was at the Family Pet Expo in Dublin over the weekend to remind people that hedgehogs are not pets but an endangered species that may be extinct in the UK within the next 20 years.

"We do encourage people to feed them though," she explained, "as at this time of year they are going into hibernation and need to be 550-600g to survive the winter."

However, she warned that slug pellets were the most serious threat to hedgehogs, which are often found living under garden sheds.

The hedgehog digests slugs that have been killed by the pellets and as a result die from secondary poisoning, according to the hedgehog expert.

She said the creatures had been forced to make their homes in gardens as land they formerly lived on has been swallowed up by construction.

The M50 area was once a prime spot to find hedgehogs.

Meanwhile, dog attacks are also up 100pc on hedgehogs compared to 2017, as family dogs find them in gardens.

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