Value of Soft Release Enclosure
27th April 2021 at 7:10 am #30751
I’m a hedgehog rehabilitator with Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue and I wanted to share a story about a small female hog I had overwinter which I posted about earlier this year and got a helpful reply from Stef. This hog did very well having come in very sick in late October until she got to 550g when she just stopped putting on weight. She stayed at about the same weight for 3 months despite all my best efforts. Eventually I decided that she was just totally fed up with hutch life so, in March, I built a soft release enclosure at the back of my garden where I put her and another overwintering female with two hog houses. Despite the fact that they barged each other for much of the night they both immediately began to put on weight and slept together in the same hog house. In 3 weeks she’d put on over 200g and was ready for release. The enclosure was a bit tricky to build as you have to find a way to stop them digging under or climbing over the fence. However I learnt a number of things from this experience: as we know hogs do not react well to lengthy periods of time without any stimulation: they often prefer to be in the company of other hogs: even a limited exposure to the outside world can kick start their metabolism and having a soft release enclosure is a great addition for a carer/rehabilitator.
I wondered if any other carer had had a similar experience.5th May 2021 at 11:21 pm #30972
Excellent idea. Thank you. I was thinking along the same lines. Did you use a wire run? Please explain what you did and what didn’t work. Many thanks.6th May 2021 at 9:48 am #30974
For many years I have overwintered hogs in multiple occupancy cages as they do far better and suffer less stress with other hogs. ( there is some thought though that this can lead to a change in hog behaviour, and we are more and more hearing of hogs living/hibernating together )
Sick and injured hogs I have also found do better once they get off heat pads etc and into a hay bed which feels ‘more natural’. Often I will ‘half way house’ them in a hay bed with a heat pad underneath the cage itself
I am however in 2 minds about soft releases – the benefits are obvious to us, but for a healthy hog it can be very stressful that they cannot escape – obviously this does depend on the size of the enclosure ( mind you trying to claw and climb their way out does help with muscle rehabillitation for a hog that’s been in captivity for a while )10th May 2021 at 5:02 am #31140
The enclosure has a layer of green plastic trellis wire which is held in place by long metal stakes and buried 4-6 inches below the soil with an L shaped foot on the inside to prevent digging underneath. I then added a layer on the inside of heavy duty plastic to prevent climbing. The enclosure is 30 inches in height. Along the inside of the fence I’ve put down some old paving slabs as added protection. There were some existing shrubs but I’ve added some additional ones to provide extra cover. I also put some hay in under cover to provide for added nest making. The only real problem was clearing the area in the first place.
I take Stef’s point though about the limitations. I’ve had one hog who got very stressed by it and had to be taken out and I think it can only be used for a limited time as an immediate precursor to full release. At the moment I’m using it for a hog with an injured, but stable, rear leg as rehabilitation and hope that he will only need to be in there for a week or two.
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