Wirral Hedgehog Hospital was set up in 2018, when Mandi Roberts, who always had a passion for hedgehogs, saw a need for a treatment centre for the spiny mammals. birkenhead.news spoke to Mandi about the Neston based hospital and the work that it does in caring for injured and orphaned hedgehogs. "Our aim is to treat hedgehogs from the local area who are found by members of the public and release them back into the wild.", Mandi explained. "Hedgehogs are found for a number of reasons some are poorly which forces them out in the daytime, some get injured, trapped or stuck in places and need help and some are orphans in need of hand-rearing.", she said. Wirral Hedgehog Hospital treats the animals for free and if required, organises veterinary care. After rehabilitation at the hospital, the hedgehogs are released into the wild in the area where they were found. On the decline in hedgehog population numbers, Mandi said, " Their recent drastic decline saddens me, we need to do all we can if we are still to have hedgehogs in the wild by the year 2030. "I had previously been helping with Caroline Howe at the Wirral Hedgehog Rescue before she was forced to close for personal reasons. Through my time with Caroline, I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience with hedgehogs which gave me the confidence to start my own rescue." There are a number of volunteers who help Mandi, "We make a great team.", Mandi explained, "We have Karen who helps with the collection of poorly hogs and fostering some of the better hogs, Lesley and family who help by doing the hog clean out a couple of times a week and help with the babies and Helen, Lesley, Bev, Naseem, Anna and Debbie who all help with the rearing of the babies and the fostering of the hedgehogs for us." Spiky, one of the hedgehogs helped by the hospital Mandi and the team also work closely with Wendy Royles at Great Sutton Hedgehog Rescue in Ellesmere Port to ensure that their prickly visitors are given the best care. In the first year of opening, Wirral Hedgehog Hospital helped around 700 hedgehogs, and during 2020, they helped around 1350 hedgehogs. "We are hoping for a quieter year this year so we can get some work done on the hospital to improve the facilities but we are hoping to be open year-round again and helping all the hedgehogs that come our way.", Mandi said. Though the hospital is not open for public visits, Mandi and the team quite often do talks to schools, Girl Guides, and care homes on the perils our hedgehogs face. "We try to get involved with local fun days and Gordale garden centre often invite us in for talks and info on what we can be doing to help our hedgehogs in our gardens.", Mandi said, of the hospital's involvement in the community. The COVID-19 pandemic has proved tricky for the hospital and they have had to organise a no-contact drop off zone for the hedgehogs. "This can cause problems with the passing of information on where the hedgehog may have been specifically found so he can be returned and also with regards to people isolating making the collection of hedgehogs in trouble rather tricky. ", Mandi explained. "We had all our fundraising cancelled, so we were unable to raise vital funds and so have mostly self-funded the hedgehog hospital this year with the exception of donations from the public and from our amazon wish list.", Mandi said. Mandi explained, "We struggled to get enough food for the hedgehogs at one point due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Maria at Neston Pet Supplies helped us greatly by getting ample food for the hedgehogs and delivering it for free of charge. I'm not sure we could have continued without them through the lockdowns." As to plans for the future, Mandi said, "We will continue treating as many hedgehogs as possible and to provide as much information to everyone to continue to help and try and turn the fate of our beautiful hedgehogs." "We also run a side rescue of helping local domestic pets find them forever homes to try and stop pets from being neglected or abandoned. We may need to expand our current premises if the demand for the hedgehogs continues to rise." Concluding, Mandi offered one piece of advice about hedgehogs that not many people may know, "Any hedgehog who is out in the daylight is in desperate need of intervention if he is going to survive." Meet SpikySpiky arrived in late September 2019, he arrived with very little fur but a big character. He was found out in the daytime looking for food. The hospital took some skin scrapings and checked for mites and other skin problems to try and discover why he had minimum fur growth but nothing came back conclusive so they just waited - gave him a heated bed and good quality food packed with vitamins and his fur started to grow. He is now the most beautiful, furry hedgehog Mandi has ever seen. He's going to be released in the spring in the garden where he was found. For more information about Wirral Hedgehog Hospital, you can visit their Facebook page and their website.