The treatment of the hedgehogs which end up at Nature Trust is serving as part of the therapeutic process for one of the residents of the Santa Maria community at Ħal-Farruġ, who is undergoing a drug rehabilitation programme.
Malcolm, 27, spends a large part of his day aborsbed in the treatment of two hedgehogs. This is part of a Nature Trust project which, just as it provides treatment for sea turtles, also provides treatment for hedgehogs who are injured by vehicles while they are trying to find something to eat. Malcom sees a lot of similarity between the treatment being given to this species with his own treatment to overcome his drug addiction.
Malcolm explained that “just as these babies needed someone to feed them every three hours, it’s the same with addiction. We need to provide nurturing to solve this problem.”
The young man feels a sense of satisfaction that once the hedgehogs have recovered, he sees them going back to their natural habitat. However, he has also seen his share of disappointment while taking care of the young babies.
“Unfortunately, three of them died. It’s not that I took it badly, but common sense told me that the more delicate and the younger an animal is, the more it needs its mother. Otherwise it has less chance of surviving.”
The President of Nature Trust, Vince Attard, told tvm.com.mt that while the hedgehog is not in danger of becoming extinct, it is facing various obstacles, including the noise coming from construction sites.
Vince Attard said that “these are night animals; they come out at night. If there is a disturbance in their habitat they will come out. We are finding that many of the hedgehogs are walking away from their natural habitat which is disappearing, and moving towards the places where people live, especially where cats are being fed, so that they can eat cat food as well.”
He added that in one year, Nature Trust receives an average of 200 calls to help these injured animals which are found by members of the public.
“The problems we find are usually hedgehogs which have been bitten by dogs, or hit by cars or by construction trucks. People have also brought in hedgehogs which are blind or which have a disability in their legs,” says Mr Attard.
He explained that since hedgehogs are a protected species, one needs a permit from the Planning and Resources Authoirity to treat them.
He noted that more people are importing hedgehogs from China as a domestic animal but then they let them loose in the wild, which as a consequence leaves a negative impact on the ecosystem. He said that in the next few days, three hedgehogs will be let loose at Wied Għollieqa after being treated by Nature Trust volunteers.