European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)
The first image you can see here is a beautiful European hedgehog, one of many wild orphans we have successfully hand reared, rehabilitated and released. Understandably, these wild rehabilitated individuals are not appropriate to bring along to animal encounters, and so we have our own little actress to fill their role on educational visits!
Meet Snowdrop the African pygmy hedgehog. Although she's not our British native species, she has the important role of teaching people all about her distant cousin the European hedgehog, about their plight in the wild and to inspire everyone to do their best to make our gardens as hedgehog friendly as possible. So for the purpose of British wildlife education, she is our little stand in for European hedgehogs!
Despite being such a well known and greatly loved creature, European hedgehogs have declined considerably in recent years. It is suggested that in some rural areas there has been up to 75% loss of population. Although the reason for their decline is not properly understood it is likely linked with habitat loss and degradation.
Snowdrop was bred in captivity in June 2022 by a UK breeder of these exotic pets. She was sold to a private owner and well loved for several months before they unfortunately had to rehome her. We took her on in March 2023 and she settled in very quickly. African pygmy hedgehogs are known to be quite unsociable with people they don't recognise the scent of, however Snowdrop is quite the exception being very curious with her surroundings and always coming out to meet new people. She loves a good back massage!
Snowdrop lives in a large heated vivarium to ensure she stays nice and warm as this species requires. She spends most of her night running on her giant exercise wheel, and most of the day tucked up in her favourite blanket. She has a diet of mixed high quality cat kibbles, a variety of live invertebrates and an occasional vegetable and scrambled egg. She always wakes up for her favourite treats and enjoys exploring during her free roaming time in the family home.