Ipswich: Meet the gran who is a hedgehog saviour!

IPSWICH: It is almost 20 years since Ipswich woman Ros Rumbold rescued her first hedgehog.

Since then she has single-handedly saved hundreds of the prickly creatures that would otherwise have fallen victim to the bitter British winter.

“It was December 18th, I was walking up to the carol concert at Sprites School and one shot across the path,” said Mrs Rumbold, of Ashton Close, Ipswich.

A life-long lover of hedgehogs, the mother-of-two realised it was in danger.

“It should have been in hibernation but it was too small, they lose a third of their body weight when they hibernate and if they are not at least 600g then they won’t make it.”

She took the hedgehog home, and with the support of the RSPCA, tried to nurture it through the winter.

“Sadly, that first one didn’t make it but the RSPCA asked me to take on three more babies. They were autumn orphans, and I hand reared them on goats milk.

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“Feeding took about half an hour each time and we had to feed them every three hours.

“It was hard work but I always say baby hedgehogs are easier to look after than human babies because they are never any trouble between feeds, they just sleep.”

She continued: “Those three did brilliantly.”

Come spring, the hedgehogs were released into the wild to fend for themselves.

“At first it was hard letting them go but I know there will always be more that need a home,” said Mrs Rumbold, 50.

Since then she has founded Ipswich Hedgehog Rescue and has taken in more than 600 of the animals.

They live in a shed in her garden, with a heat mat and strip light to keep them warm during the toughest months.

“I try not to have more than eight at a time, because it is expensive to keep them.

“This winter has been a particularly hard and I have had to turn lots away. Even now I am still getting calls.

“We had a wet August which is never good, it means many of them are prone to illness and it leaves them weak. The winter also started early so they didn’t have time to build up their body weight before going into hibernation.” Now more than ever, Mrs Rumbold is keen to step up her work to ensure the fascinating creatures that she has treasured all her life fight off extinction.

“They are on the endangered list and you can already tell they are struggling, we leave our garden wild to attract them but we rarely see any about.

“I have always loved hedgehogs ever since I read Mrs Tiggy-Winkle at the age of five. I now have a granddaughter, Jessica, and it would be lovely if she could get involved when she is a little older.”

Mrs Rumbold takes the hedgehogs to schools and nurseries to teach the children about their care.

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