Ups and downs of animal rescue

If you let it, wildlife rescue can be an emotional rollercoaster, with some animals surviving against all the odds and others not when it seems as if they should.

Saturday, 21st July 2018, 14:21 pm
Three-legged hog.

One little battler that has surprised us all is the female, three-legged hedgehog from Fenwick Steads, which came into the trust infested with mites back in mid-December.

Kay could tell she’d been through a lot; she’d probably already had a family of hoglets, one of her back legs was missing, and her prickles were possibly damaged by the ‘severe mite burden’ she carried.

The wound where her missing leg had been had healed so well Kay thought it may have been removed surgically in a previous visit to the vet’s. But she came to the conclusion that the hog had just been lucky, and whatever had befallen her had resulted in a very clean amputation.

Amazingly, she has come through all this and is now a healthy, albeit slightly wobbly hedgehog. There is the possibility that she has been found an enclosed garden home as releasing her back into the wild is not an option with her missing leg.

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As with every animal that comes into the Rollo Centre, she had that extra chance that can make all the difference. Sometimes, sadly, it’s not enough.

We’ve had a cygnet in for a few weeks who came in all on his own. In the wild they will hatch with siblings, and as they become adults they find their place within a large social group.

We did our best, adding a white teddy and a mirror so he at least had what passed for a brother or sister to look at, but I was delighted to see one Wednesday that another, younger cygnet had joined him in the aviary. Sadly that one died, as Pat reported last week, but another young one was added.

Unfortunately, when I got to the trust last Friday this one was also weakening and despite our best efforts he, too, faded away.

While initially young animals may look perfectly healthy and be eating normally when kind people bring them in to the trust, Jackie said we often don’t know what happened to them beforehand, and what’s going on internally.

It was very sad to watch a beautiful young animal die like that, but I know we’d done everything we could to give him the best possible chance. Although he’s on his own again, the original cygnet continues to thrive.

My spirits were lifted later that day when I went for an evening stroll in Spittal with a friend who was visiting from London.

It was a glorious evening, the sun turning the old bridge and rampart walls a fiery golden-red, and the sky and river were a vivid mix of blues. At least 100 adult swans were basking in the evening sun, their necks relaxed onto their backs and their beaks tucked under a wing.

I wonder how many of Berwick’s feathery flotilla have been raised or rescued by the trust down the years?