Hello Cleaning Brush, Will You Be My Mom?
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Four tiny orphaned hedgehogs are snuggling up to the bristles of a cleaning brush – because they think it’s their mother.
The four inch long creatures are being hand-reared by staff at the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park in Ashurst, Hants.
Workers say Mary, Mungo, Midge and Slappy get comfort from playing with the center’s cleaning brush and enjoy rubbing against it.
The smells on the brush, which is used to sweep a yard, remind the hedgehogs of their natural habitat while the texture reminds them of their mother.
Manager John Crooks, 41, said: “They are a bit like human babies – they need activities to keep them busy.
“Because they have very poor eyesight you have to appeal to their sense of smell and touch by giving them different scents and textures.
“They like natural scents and have enjoyed playing with our cleaning brushes, soil, leaves, flower pots and the like.
“They particularly seem to enjoy rubbing against the brush.
“It may sound odd but I imagine the bristles feel a bit like their mum.”
He added: “Three of the hedgehogs came to us because their mum was sadly crushed by a council palette truck at one of their depots.
“They are only a couple of weeks old.
“The fourth one is a little bit older and was found wandering around a back garden in the middle of the day.
“The home owner left it alone for a while to see if it would find its mum but after a few hours it was still by itself so she brought it into to us.”
The hedgehogs will be fed until they are full-sized and then they will be released back into the wild.
John said: “We are feeding them milk powder mixed with kitten food – but they don’t like fish flavor – they prefer nice meaty chunks.
“When they get older they will move onto proper cat food and will occasionally be given slugs and snails as a treat.
“There has been a real surge in slugs this year because of the wet weather so hopefully that will mean a good year for hedgehogs too.
“I would urge people not to kill garden slugs with pellets because the poison will be passed on to hedgehogs and a build up of poison could be fatal.
“If the weather is good they could be released in a month or so, otherwise we will feed them over the winter so they do not hibernate and then release them in spring.”
Playtime: The baby hedgehogs enjoy themselves with their ‘mother’
He added: “They are quite a handful and each has their own character.
“One is quite snappy and another fairly sleepy.”
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