'Just imagine being in bed and someone coming in and cutting you to shreds'

Animal lover Nikki Allen is passionate about saving injured hedgehogs and spreading the word about how people can help keep them safe.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 4:45 am
Nikki Allen pictured with rescued hedgehog Doreen. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Nikki, of Morley, said she wants to raise awareness after dealing with a spate of recent injuries to hedgehogs, including one that died after apparently being hit by a garden strimmer.

Motion activated 'trail' video cameras and hedgehog houses installed in her garden mean she can monitor hog activity and take sick and injured animals to rescue centres.

"I do get angry at seeing the same injuries year in and year out that our hedgehogs sustain - almost all due to humans," said Nikki, who is currently caring for a disabled hog she has called Doreen.

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Nikki Allen pictured with rescued hedgehog Doreen. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

"Annoyingly, we have again had issues locally with our hedgehogs being injured due to littering, strimming, poisonings, people putting down rat traps - to name but a few."

Earlier this month Nikki saw a hedgehog she called Cinnamon that had suffered an apparent strimmer injury to her head.

"She was so traumatised that when she slept she was literally crying out in her sleep,'' said Nikki. "She died overnight on May 19.

"All people have to do to avoid horrific injuries to hedgehogs is physically check around their garden for hoggies before they go ploughing in.

Nikki Allen pictured in the garden of her home in Morley Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

"It doesn’t take long - this includes using shears.

"I had a hedgehog called Nugget last year who was scalped by shears.

"It was an awful injury, but thanks to rescue, she was able to be saved and is now back out in the wild.

"Just imagine being in bed and someone coming in and cutting you to shreds. Unacceptable."

Nikki Allen pictured with rescued hedgehog Doreen. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Nikki, who works full time in the costing department at a West Yorkshire law firm, said she is a hedgehog 'ambulance volunteer' and is trained in providing first aid care for hogs.

"I have helped to save countless hedgehogs but I can’t take the credit," she said. "The true heroes are the selfless people working in our hedgehog rescues.

"I’ve set up a local Facebook page to provide advice and information about hedgehogs to raise awareness of what everyone can do to try and help them.

"It is wonderful that so many local people want to help our hedgehogs."

A sign outside Nikki Allen's home in Morley Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Nikki said she first became involved in hedgehog rescue around four years ago after spotting a hog in her garden one night.

"I started support feeding and put out trail cameras to monitor him and his pals discreetly, which has proven to be lifesaving.

"The first hedgehog I took to rescue was called Burt, who had an injured eye.

"Rescue cleared up his eye infection but he was blind in the eye. He managed just fine though and was released after a short stay in rescue.

Nikki said she took one hedgehog called Coconut to a rescue centre in March, because he was dehydrated and covered in ticks after waking from hibernation.

She said Coconut was released but turned up with an abscess on his nose after a few days.

"It was probably caused by putting his head in some rubbish like a tin can," said Nikki. "Elastic bands, old face masks, tins, plastic can holders etc are all massive problems for our hedgehogs."

Also in March, Nikki saw another regular hog visitor, Hulk, was limping and had a swollen back leg.

" After a visit to the vets, he was found to have a broken leg which had healed but not quite right," she said. "This was more than likely another trapping injury.

"It is not only rat traps that cause leg injuries but log rolls in people’s gardens and drains which are not covered.

" Thankfully, Hulk was able to be released at the beginning of May once it was clear his leg was stable.

Also this month Nikki said Hoggles the hedgehog suffered a broken ankle.

"The injury was also clearly caused by a rat trap," said Nikki. "

"One hedgehog was found to have been poisoned due to eating a poisoned dead rat carcass."

"Had the finder not contacted me straight away, she would not have had the treatment in time and she would have likely died an agonising death.

"She has weak back legs because rat poison has damaged her brain. Rescue are hopeful that she will make a full recovery though.

"It is another reason why no-one should use poisons or slug pellets etc.

"We can all play our part in helping our hedgehogs.

"Do not feed mealworms. This causes bone disease and kills hedgehogs very painfully. Give them kitten biscuits and water, but not milk.

"Checking when strimming and gardening is vital.

"Most people think there won’t be any hedgehogs around or they will run away at the noise.

"Hedgehogs will not run away. They curl up in fear. Take the time to check. Do not assume they are not there.

"Make sure your ponds have ramps so hedgehogs can easily get out if they fall in. Check for any trapping hazard in gardens like log rolls, uncovered drains etc.

"Pick up football nets on a night to avoid our hedgehogs getting caught.

"And please, do not use poisons and traps."

Jayne Hartley, manager of Micklefield Hedgehog Rescue, said: "Nikki is a key part of the network of unpaid, unrecognised volunteers we have connecting hedgehog rescues, volunteer drivers, first aid and information sharing in West Yorkshire.

"She is well known and highly regarded, working with a number of large and small rescues right across the area.

"Before Facebook we all used to work in isolation. Now we have a network of volunteers doing lots of different roles.

"Nikki tends to be on the frontline, finding hogs that people have given up on, finding rescue spaces at night or when they are all full to bursting, and giving the worst injured and most sick hogs and hoglets one last chance."

For information on how to make your garden hedgehog friendly and to find contacts for hedgehog rescue centres, go to www.yorkshirehedgehogs.co.uk/