Hedgehog haven in the Highlands

Stewart Borland, reserve manager, with one of the rescued hedgehogs.

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Have you seen a hedgehog recently? It’s quite possible you have not due to their severe decline, writes Andrew Lambert.

There were estimated to be more than 30 million of the tiny, spiny omnivores roaming the UK in the 1950s but latest estimates suggest that only 1 million remain in the wild.

Highland Titles Nature Reserve in Duror is approaching the end of construction of a purpose built hedgehog hospital to increase the capacity of their existing hedgehog rescue programme.

This week the Lochaber and Oban Times were happy to have a behind-the-scenes tour with reserve manager, Stewart Borland, and to donate several bundles of old newspapers to the cause.

Working with Crown Vets in Fort William and Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue in Beith, Ayrshire, Highland Titles is able to provide a safe, forever home for hedgehogs that they are not able to release back into the wild.

Stewart told us: ‘It’s early days numbers wise, but the overall total must be around 18 hedgehogs already. There are currently six in the Forever Home, including two blind ones and two three-legged hedgehogs, all of which are doing fine.

‘We have already released eight back into the wild and have the three you have seen who will move to the hospital.’

The reserve is currently home to two baby hedgehogs who need to put on more weight before they can hibernate. They were found by a dog in Fort William, rescued by Crown Vets and brought to Highland Titles to be nursed back to health.

Stewart continued: ‘ The hospital capacity at start up will be for eight hedgehogs, but that will grow as we need the extra facilities, as we get better known and more arrive needing our help.

‘The help from Sophie at Crown Vets in Fort William, and Andy and Gay at Hessilhead Animal Rescue Centre in Irvine has been invaluable.

‘In the future I’m hoping to move beyond just hedgehogs and become a small animal rescue facility, but one step at a time.’