From Winter 2012/2013:
A Red Kite Visitor
As you can see from the image, we had a magnificent patient last year, a glorious red kite.
bird was found in a collapsed state in a field, and was brought over to us the same day. Bodily there did not
seem to be any problem, but the bird was incapable of standing up at all. I know that red kites have a defence technique that
involves them feigning death by lying prone, but even when the rescuer reached out and picked up the kite, it did not react.
My conclusion was that the bird seemed to be concussed. I hoped and prayed that there would be no further complications,
indicative of poisoning, as some birds of prey are so detested by ignorant bloodsporters and a few others, that they are killed
illegally sometimes. Poisoning is not uncommon.
To my relief, the kite seemed a little better the following
day, and with warmth and care, continued to improve. I administered fluids for a couple of days, then gently force fed
the bird with a little food, and after that the bird started to feed quite eagerly, taking the food by himself with no trouble.
He graduated into an aviary, and after a couple of weeks more for him to strengthen, during which time the sight of
him took my breath away again and again, so beautiful a sight was he, I released him to join the other kites that are numerous
in my village. I provided food on the top of the aviary for a while, but he left us a strong and magnificent bird, and
I have no doubt he picked up the threads of his life with no difficulty.
From Winter 2012/2013
A heartwarming hedgehog story
You just never know what you are going to take in next, or what you are going to hear about next, when you have a
wildlife sanctuary. I was contacted by a recycling centre in Oxford in the later part of the Summer, and they wanted help
with three baby hedgehogs.
The hogs had been found – believe it or not – in a skip, and what’s
more, in the landfill skip. It is just possible that they were accidentally put in there, but there is also the dreadful possibility
that they had been deliberately thrown away in the most callous way.
But these two little hedgehogs were very lucky,
because a sharp-eyed worker at the centre noticed them, rescued them, and notified his boss, leading to the call to us. We
collected the hedgehogs straight away, and I was relieved to see that they appeared to be healthy and uninjured. They were
hungry and thirsty, but that was soon remedied.
They stayed with me for a time, and their rescuer visited with
another Council employee so that he could be photographed with them for the story to go on the Council’s website.
Carol now has the hedgehogs in her care, and they are scheduled for release in the coming Spring. We called
them Skippy, Landfill and Compost. One of them is pictured below enjoying a meal after arrival at the sanctuary.
From Summer 2012:
Moonraker the leveret
It has been my privilege this year to rear a beautiful little leveret. Moonraker came in having been found near a barn,
in a dangerous situation as a large wedding reception was being held that afternoon at the barn. I was concerned that
this very young hare may not in fact be an orphan, as leverets are left hidden in the grass by their mothers for long periods,
but when he arrived, I could see and feel that he was underweight, and I think he was a genuine orphan.
I was lucky
that he took fairly quickly to being hand fed, probably because he was very hungry. Leverets are notoriously difficult
and tricky animals to deal with, and can die unexpectedly at any time during the process. Thankfully Moonraker behaved
pretty straightforwardly, and was a pure delight from start to finish.
There is just something about hares. It is very difficult to put into words, but it is obvious that many people are
aware of it, because the hare has been a creature of legend for centuries, and the hare goddess Oestre in pagan beliefs was
the goddess of fertility and the Moon. Hares have always been linked to the Moon, and the myths and legends that surround
hares are very beautiful. They are worth looking up and reading about.
The hare is of course another animal that bloodsports barbarians love to hunt and kill. The disparity between
the absolute beauty, intelligence and vulnerability of wild animals, and the depravity and brutality of those that harm them,
is absolute, and hard for the mind to grasp.
I hope the photographs will go some way to showing what an utterly delightful animal this little hare was. It was my
privilege to look after him and give him the help he needed.
Once again, never forget that we can only do this
work because of the help and support we get from our loyal friends - i.e. YOU!
From Spring 2012:
Crows are cool!
The crows are another of those species that some people choose to dislike,
but the crow family is actually one of the most fascinating of all. They are extremely intelligent, and the young
of such species as jackdaws, magpies and crows are very interesting to watch at the close quarters involved when you are hand
They are noisy, demanding, and have plenty of attitude. Their intelligence comes through from
the earliest days, and their development is very interesting to observe. They also have a range of crooning noises in
addition to the well know squawks, and although these are very difficult to describe, they make you laugh out loud when you
hear them. They seem to be talking to one another. They also make a very comical noise when fed, a sort of indignant,
gulping chatter as the food goes down, which is one of the annual joys for those of us who hand feed young corvids.
It is really comical, unique to the corvids, and can win over anyone who is not already a fan!
One of my fondest
memories is of a young jay I hand reared who automatically starting mimicking sounds – before he went on release he
could do a perfect imitation of my neighbour calling her cat, and also could mimic my sneeze to perfection. Brilliant!
From Spring 2011:
At the time of writing, we
have the first two cubs in, no doubt to be followed by many more.
was the first to arrive, a very young orphan, still with eyes closed. He settled well, and very quickly developed a fixation
with the feeding bottle which he still has. The suction power of a determined fox cub should not be underestimated, and Bob
is a master of his craft. Now he is a bit older, with eyes open and managing at least four steps at a time before falling
over, and with his teeth through, he is being weaned onto soft solid food, and his first attempts consisted of him trying
the tried and trusted power suction approach, possibly trying to suck the bowl down along with the food inside it. It worked,
and squidgy food ended up inside Bob (well at least some of it did, the rest being liberally smeared all over Bob and everything
around him). He is a smashing little chap, and judging by his large paws, going to put all that food to good use by growing
up to be a chunky lad.
Second arrival was a thin little waif brought to us by the receptionist of a vets some distance away.
I have named this cub Pixie (left) because of his tiny wistful little face. He was ribby and very sad, but he has now blossomed
into a very happy and settled little animal, very playful and particularly fond of very small soft toys that he can clamp
between his teeth and parade around with great satisfaction. The effect is only spoiled when he trips over his own feet, and
the small toys usually end up resting in the middle of his bowl of food, but he’s happy.
The two boys are now able to play together, and this is always a great thing for cubs, as they absolutely love one
another and thrive better with company.
From Autumn 2007:
The humble hedgehog does not always get the appreciation
it deserves. Here are a few stories of recent hedgehog visitors that show how heroic and stoic they really are.
1. A Devoted Mother
It’s a bit much when you have laboured diligently to prepare a nice snug nest for your forthcoming youngsters,
gone through the business of giving birth to them, and just a couple of days later, find your whole world turned literally
upside-down by some busybody humans.
Meg, a hedgehog currently resident at Little Foxes, found herself in just
this frightening situation a few weeks ago. She had spent ages collecting grass and scraps of plastic and material
together into a nest, and then some people decided to tidy up their garden and pulled the whole thing out of its snug
position amongst some tree roots. They certainly didn’t mean to, of course, but the result was one
adult and three very tiny hedgehogs in a cardboard box arriving at Little Foxes.
The little family was
put into a roomy cage and a very watchful eye was kept on them to see if the mother rejected or attacked her youngsters
due to the disturbance she had suffered. A mere hour after arrival, distinct sounds of suckling could be heard.
Two days later they were moved into an outside pen, with a new nest (much inferior to the old one as it had been made
by a mere human) and left to their own devices, apart from hearty meals provided for this devoted mother hedgehog.
Only a couple of checks have been made on the babies, as the least possible disturbance is caused in such situations,
but a week ago they were checked again, and the babies are now fat and toothy and looking very good indeed. Soon
they will no longer need their mother, and she will want to go off on her own again, so she will be released and
the babies will be kept here until at a releasable weight. The stoicism and maternal devotion of this mother has
been heart warming to witness. She has coped with adversity and fear, and just got on with the job of looking after
her brood. (STOP PRESS: ALL FOUR HEDGEHOGS NOW RELEASED.)
2. I am not a rat - I am a hedgehog
Also currently resident at Little Foxes is Rat-trap, so called (perhaps not very tactfully) because she got caught
in a lethal rat trap. I hate these contraptions, and I think they (and snares) should be outlawed along with
gin traps as horrible examples of human brutality.
Poor old Rat-trap was minding her own business foraging about at night and no doubt decided to investigate whatever
bait had been put in the trap. When she arrived here after Richard, our helper, collected her, I was disappointed
to find that the householder had not done as I asked and brought her indoors away from the flies, and consequently she
was not only injured, but also covered in fly eggs. I removed all of these before they turned into maggots and
started eating her alive. She was given fluids and an antibiotic injection, and placed in a warm cage to recover.
That little hedgehog has doggedly got on with life, although at first unable to stand up properly withough keeling
over onto her side. She attacked her food bowl with a sideways motion that worked very well, and likewise a drink
of water went in sideways. She progressed within two weeks to being able to walk around her cage with only,
now, the occasional fall onto her side, quickly corrected. Whether she will fully recover remains to be seen -
I doubt it myself, and I expect her to retain a degree of nerve damage. If so, she will stay as a permanent
resident at Little Foxes, very probably under the protective wing of Sue, one of our fosterers, who has other permanent hogs
in her care.
3. Plastic hurts
The final one of our three heroes, who are just examples of many of their kind, is a little chap
who had not even reached maturity before he fell foul of human filth and lack of concern. He is just one of the
thousands of animals that get caught in plastic waste - in his case it was a ring of plastic from the top of a drinks
can. (These should always be snipped into pieces before disposal so that they cause no harm).
This hog was taken by his rescuer into a vets, where the ring was removed, and he was then passed on to us.
He had a deep welt across his stomach where the plastic had cut into him. His spines had protected his back from
Despite having an infected wound stretching
from side to side of his tum, he carried on regardless, eating and growing well while time and antibiotics healed the wound.
He is now very close to release, restored and repaired.
From Winter 2012/2013
short while ago we heard from a lady whose 8-year-old nephew had done a project for school, all about foxes. Harry is
very keen on foxes, and we are pleased and proud to now have him as a member of Little Foxes. Here is an excerpt from
Harry’s excellent project:
What is a Fox?
A Fox is an animal
that should be cared for, and not hunted for what it does to survive. People usually get mad at these animals and refer to
them as “Pests”. However, I am one child who thinks that the public is wrong because they have to eat and drink;
so do you.
A Fox is a living thing, but on all fours, claws, a tail, muzzle, and a fur coat of
course, so really they just haven’t developed like us, but they are still a living thing. Urban foxes are pesky, you
may think, but they aren’t. Farmers think that Red Foxes are rodents because they often sneak into farms, to eat the
chickens, but it’s to survive when they cannot find food in their natural habitat.
should care for these marvellous animals, not hunt them.
Well said Harry!
Kit Kat and Crunchie:
Two of our 2012 fox cub casualties...see last picture below for update!
l-r: Kit Kat, Kitty and Twix. They are three of seven cubs we have recently released. All are in excellent
health, and we have had marvellous reports of them from the release site, including four or five of the cubs having been seen
playing together many evenings.
From Summer 2010:
Another baby polecat
will remember Nipper the polecat who featured in the last couple of Newsletters - well we now have another young male polecat,
Cracker (above) who also came into us as an orphaned baby. He was found in a bad way beside a road, and it is very lucky that
his rescuers were sensible people who could see this animal was all alone and in trouble. It didn’t take little Cracker long to recover from his debilitated state, and he
is now absolutely gorgeous and full of the joys.
From Winter 2007:
Hedgehogs Flock In
may have read reports in the newspapers about the numbers of late baby hedgehogs being taken in by sanctuaries, and Little
Foxes is no exception. Although this is being interpreted as another sign of global warming, in fact
it does happen every year. Hedgehogs always produce late-season babies that, illogically, have little or no chance
of putting on enough fat to survive hibernation. Having said that, this year we have taken in a record number of
these little critters, and have, as always, seen a fair number of them succumb, despite all our loving care.
Nevertheless we still have a good number of these to release in the spring, to swell the numbers of this
apparently diminishing species. Undoubtedly hedgehogs are suffering badly as our summers become increasingly hot
and dry. It cannot be said often enough how important it is for us all to put out food and water every night
during periods of drought to help these little animals survive.
one poor old chap here with me who came in suffering from horrible injuries caused by a strimmer (something I would love
to ban!). He was cut around his ears and face, but thankfully his eyes survived unscathed, and he still has
a nose, unlike some of the strimmer victims I have seen. He has been here for many weeks, and is very slowly
but surely repairing and recovering. He eats well and seems a placid sort of chap.
Despite the hedgehog tendency to expire
for many mysterious and hidden reasons, some can cope with and survive truly horrendous injuries. Many is
the maggot-infested, infection-ridden hedgehog victim that has caused me to shake my head in horror and pity, that has
stoically and matter of factly got on with life and recovered. Sometimes they co-operate as little as possible with us,
their well intentioned carers, as we try and tend a tightly curled up ball of prickles who seems determined to hang
on to every wriggly maggot and every speck of malodorous pus, but, hey, perseverance is our middle name here.
From Summer 2007:
One wet Sunday a call came through from two ladies
who had found a very bedraggled baby buzzard on the roadside.
Until the bird actually arrived, I was
doubtful if it really was a buzzard, as it is easy for people to misidentify birds, but sure enough they were right. I was
suspicious about how this poor bird came to be in such trouble, as it was found near a very large shooting estate, and we
all know that, despite their protected legal status, birds of prey are still unlawfully killed by gamekeepers sometimes. She
was far too young to be out of the nest, and I wondered how both parents had managed to disappear, leaving a very distressed
baby to struggle out of the nest and wander onto the road. It might have been otherwise,
I don’t know, and never
The baby buzzard was wet, cold and very thin indeed. Further examination revealed a squirming mass of maggots
on the top of the head, and another on the side of the throat. Fluids were administered, the bird was relieved of its maggots
and the wounds cleaned, an antibiotic administered (as maggot infestations invariably result in mucky infection in the wound
site), and the bird was placed in a heated cage. She was fed mainly rehydrating fluid for the first evening, moving on then
to tiny pieces of food, and finally to a normal amount of food as her body became capable of dealing with it...