Auckland woman sets up hedgehog hospital in her kitchen
An Auckland woman has set up a hedgehog hospital in her home, but experts say the wild animals are pests and should be euthanised.
Monique Jones from Royal Oak has nine recovering hedgehogs in her kitchen, from newborns to adults.
Four years ago Jones found a sick one in her garden and called Hedgehog Rescue in Wellington.
"Every time there's a hedgehog found in the area I get a phone call from Hedgehog Rescue in Wellington asking to take it in," she said.
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Each hedgehog patient has a name. There's Harry, Ringo, Brillo, Bubba and Blake. But Harry's her favourite and is a bit of an escape artist.
Unitec associate professor in environmental and animal sciences Nigel Adams said hedgehogs should not be nursed back to health but "euthanised".
"They will predate eggs and small chicks of ground nesting birds, insects including wetas and other invertebrates, skinks and even possibly some native frog species," Adams said.
"They seem to be of particular concern as predators of eggs of the highly endangered Black Stilt that nests in the braid river systems of the South Island."
Adams said hedgehogs were a target animal for control in some regions.
"Other New Zealanders considered them cute animals epitomised by the existence of 'rescue' organisations although in New Zealand they are not formally organised in the way they are in for example the UK," he said.
Jones said she fed the prickly creatures jelly meat and cat biscuits and it was almost a full time job.
She takes them in when they're sick and unwell, keeps them warm, de-worms them and treats them for mange, caused by mites.
"They're ready to go back out into the wild after the weather gets warm," she said.
Jones goes through stacks of newspapers, baby wipes and cat food each week and houses the hedgehogs in various plastic containers.
She put a call out on social media website Neighbourly.co.nz asking for people to donate newspapers to her make-shift hospital.
DOC would not provide comment but on its website said hedgehogs posed a threat to native weta, skinks and the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds.
DOC estimated there were between two and four hedgehogs per hectare in New Zealand and in some areas as many as eight.
In mid-2009, DOC included hedgehogs in a pest eradication programme on Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands.
However, despite DOC's stance Jones loves the little creatures and releases them back into the wild in One Tree Hill and other reserves close by.
"They're not pests they are very good for the garden and they eat slugs and worms," she said.