The hedgehogs, which learners named Apollo and Barry, were all found locally last Autumn and were too small and under-nourished to hibernate. They were taken in by the Animal Care department and learners have kept them at a constant indoor temperature to keep them awake and ensured they have been well fed over the winter months. The two have been in an outdoor pen for two weeks to acclimatise and were then released at dusk into the grounds at Broomfield Hall. A third rescued hedgehog, Zeus, was due to join them but unfortunately died in his sleep earlier in the week.
Animal Care lecturer Abby Bruce is a qualified zoologist and a veterinary nurse specialising in hedgehog conservation before joining Derby College.
She said: "We looked after Snuffy the hedgehog last winter who escaped before we could release her formally so it was great that these two waited for the planned release date.
"The learners have been monitoring their behaviour during the gradual process of re-acclimatising them and we will be leaving food out over the summer so that they stand the best chance of surviving in the wild.
"Apollo and Barry are now at a good weight so should survive well in the wild. They leave behind our resident hedgehogs have been injured and are therefore not able to be released back into the wild. Tipsy has a head trauma and balance issues and Tripod has just three legs.
"Caring for these three animals has been good experience for the learners and we also hold courses for people in Spring and Autumn to raise awareness of how to care for these wonderful creatures.
"Nationally, the hedgehog population is in decline so it is important that people have awareness of how to look after these animals if they come into the garden, what to feed them on, signs of ill-health and what they should do if there is a problem."
For more information about these and all the full and part time Animal Care courses at Broomfield Hall, please visit www.derby-college.ac.uk or telephone 0800 028 0289