Hungry hogs end their winter sleep

The weather in the last week has thrown just about everything it can at us – high winds, snow, rain and bright sunshine.

By Elfrieda Waren, Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust
Sunday, 24 March, 2019, 11:27
Hog in cage.

While the volunteers shiver and complain to each other about the biting cold, the wild animals at the trust are just getting on with it, which for hedgehogs means coming out of hibernation.

The hogs of Hotchi Mews (our double row of outdoor hutches) are gradually coming to, some of them nibbling on the food mix of dried biscuits, fruit and nuts which we put down over winter instead of daily wet food.

But last week’s windy weather was making it difficult to tell which hogs were awake and which ones were still asleep.

The icy blasts had blown under the hutch doors, causing the newspaper linings to flap upwards and tipping over the biscuit bowls, scattering the food.

This created a similar mess to that made by a hungry hedgehog.

To make matters worse, a sudden gust blew the lid of one hutch off its hinges as I was topping up the dry food and water.

This means poor Jim now has yet another repair task added to his whiteboard list of ‘Jobs to Do’.

It was a relief to get out of the wind to help with the hogs housed in the big room and the recovery room.

A few of the hogs here now have ‘small meals please’ notes attached to their cages as they’re edging towards overweight.

At the time of writing there are 49 hogs in residence at the Rollo Centre, breaking all previous records.

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Last winter it felt as if we had hogs in every conceivable corner, but this year the situation has been greatly improved by the 12 new cages.

There’s still the same floor area for hogs to move about, but only about half the ceiling height so that three cages can be stacked where just one of the old cages went before.

We’re hoping to be able to buy more of these cages in the future.

As ever, though, the hogs still find creative ways to go to the loo, one hog even managing to have forced his poo through the narrow gap down the side of the hutch door.

I guess being in a contained environment, they want to do their business as far away as possible from their bedding, and one or two of the more agile hogs can do a handstand against the sides of the cage.

Still, it keeps the volunteers on their toes and provides us with many hours of entertainment.

Milligan, the rescue hog in my garden, could wake up any day now.

He came into the trust in October 2016 and then moved into my enclosed garden nearly two years ago because he couldn’t be released into the wild due to his lung condition.

Last year he came out of hibernation at the very end of March.

He’s so tame now that I fully expect him to knock on the kitchen door when his winter sleep is over.