She was shocked to find something this incredible in her backyard. Finding relics buried on her property was not out of the ordinary. But this one drew her in. But what was it? She asked herself. When she flipped it over, she suddenly realized that it wasn’t an object or a relic. She felt chills run down her body. She needed help before it was too late.
The historic market town of Bishop’s Stortford, England, was quaint. It was once a Roman settlement. Then, a new Saxon community took over the land. The town became an evacuation center for many Britons. So shockingly enough, tons of ancient relics popped up in this village from time to time. She owned a huge piece of land near the town, but she never could have imagined that there was simply so much waiting to be uncovered underneath.
49-year-old Lynne Garner is a nature enthusiast. She is particularly fond of the countryside, and was raised in Bishop’s Stortford. So, she promised herself she would always remain close to the town she was born in. She knew this place like the back of her hand, and over time, she became a non-profit organization’s founder. But none of her experiences had prepared her for what she stumbled onto that day.
Herts Hogline was the name of the organization, and it was her pride and joy. The non-profit organization’s mission statement was to look after forest animals and release them into the English countryside. These majestic animals were part of the country’s natural heritage. But a campaign was launched to turn one of these creatures into the town’s national animal. And yet, everyone was surprised when a woman brought in what appeared to be an ancient relic.
According to studies, the animal population in the forest had dropped dramatically. So, Garner knew she had to do something. So, she nursed and returned all the animals under her care back into the forest. When that wasn’t possible, her organization would find a place where the disabled animal could live a peaceful life. But her heart broke when she saw how dire the situation truly was for these creatures.
She had managed to help several animals in the past, and fortunately, all of them made it successfully. Best of all, the town fully supported her foundation and her kind actions. Some even donated to the cause over the years. This made her feel happy and lucky because she was doing something she really loved. But she got all misty eyed as she set her sights on one creature.
Bishop’s Stortford is famous for its extensive vegetation and trees. The town is located around the River Stort Valley, which allows the surrounding greenery to thrive. But forests of this nature tend to attract all kinds of creatures both benign and malevolent. She just never imagined that nature could be so relentless and cruel.
A woman and her husband were in their backyard one day. They had discovered ancient relics before, so they decided to dig around for more. They grabbed their gloves and their equipment and set out to uncover what it was. They searched near the rocks because they believed that some artifacts might have been buried underneath the soil. But as they started searching through the dirt, they discovered a brown lump that could be very valuable.
They took a closer look at the dark brown object buried in the ground. Then they glanced at one another and realized they found something. The woman ran into the house and grabbed her camera. But the moment she walked outside, she saw that her husband had the relic in his hand. Except it wasn’t actually a relic at all. They weren’t sure what it was but they knew it needed their help.
They were dumbfounded. They had unearthed a tiny hedgehog from their backyard, and it was so scared too. But they weren’t really surprised since hedgehogs were common in the region. But this creature was somewhat unique. The couple took it to the A120 Veterinary Surgery near Little Hadham. But his diagnosis brought tears to the couple’s eyes.
The hedgehog suffered from alopecia brought on by childhood trauma. As a result, he had lost all of his spines. This was quite unusual. Hedgehogs used their spines to protect themselves. So not having them was actually pretty bad. The vets figured that stress was to blame for the loss of the spines. But what had frightened this little guy so much?
The vets weren’t sure how to treat the hedgehog, so they reached out to Lynne Garner. Fortunately, she knew how to help. The moment she saw him, she fell in love with the poor little hedgehog. She named the spineless creature Derek and took him to her rescue center. She intended to nurse him back to health and help him get strong. But Derek was still having issues with his past trauma.
When Derek was a hoglet or a baby, he had suffered a traumatic injury that made him nervous about his wildlife surroundings. "He [weighed] less than 100 grams, and they [hedgehogs] have to be 600 grams to survive the winter," Garner told The Dodo. Derek had a rather large wound too, and it was infected. A bird attack was likely to blame for the injury, which she treated over the course of several weeks.
"I've never seen this before in 25 years of looking after hedgehogs," explained Garner. This hedgehog had been through a lot, but now, Garner and her team were doing the impossible to make sure he was okay. A hedgehog tends to have about 5000 spines, but this one had lost so many of his spines that he was virtually bald. But Garner found a great way to take the creature’s stress levels down to zero.
To lower his stress, Derek needed a heated area where he could roam freely without the risk of running into predators. She made a plea on Facebook: “Derek has been diagnosed with stress-related alopecia. To reduce the stress, he needs a large heated area (an escape-proof heated greenhouse with no concrete floor would be ideal) where he could spend the next couple of months. Alternatively some form of treatment. Is there anyone who has such an enclosure or can suggest treatment? If you don't, then please spread far and wide. We really want to get him 100% by March so we can release him back into the wild. THANKS.”
A woman named Monique answered her post. “All sorted. The fab Monique is picking Derek up on Friday. She's even going to give him a much-needed manicure. I'm sure she'll be able to achieve what I haven't - a hog with spines!” Garner posted. As soon as Derek’s spines grew back, he would be returned to the wild where he could protect himself. But there was a great deal of work to do before he was back to his old self.
Derek’s routine involved living in a relaxed environment all by himself. He also received a bunch of soothing massages. "With the new run hopefully he'll recover in the next two months and his stress levels will go down," Garner said. She also spoke with several groups, including the British Hedgehog Preservation Society in an effort to find a more permanent solution for the little creature, in case his spines didn’t grow back.
It turns out that Derek’s spa treatment did work after all. Oil massages are a great way to treat hedgehogs with injuries similar to the one Derek had. In many cases it promotes spine growth. "He's a wild animal, and we want to be able to release him as soon as possible," Garner shared.
Aside from oil treatments and a heated and calm environment, Derek received probiotics on a daily basis. This aided in his digestion and overall health. Derek’s condition dramatically improved. His spines had grown back, and he was a tiny ball of happiness. His recovery was a miracle! With alopecia, some growth is expected, but Derek was able to regrow all of his spines in practically no time! The creature had finally bounced back.
Derek the hedgehog now has a chance at a happy life thanks to Garner and her team. Although they’re uncertain if his trauma will allow him to live in the wild, they’re pretty sure he will be okay if he stays with them. Derek will never have anything to worry about as long as he lives because he’s got plenty of love and friendship!