Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital

a fox without a tail

Devant’s Principal Consultant Emma Atkins visited Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital recently and took a look behind the scenes at this recipient of one of Devant’s charity donations last year.

Emma and a hedgehog wranglerTiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital is the busiest, and largest wildlife hospital in Europe, caring for sick, injured and orphaned British wildlife 24/7/365. Its ultimate aim is to treat, rehabilitate and release its patients back into the wild. It has no access to grants or funding, so it is only able to function through donations, such as individual fundraising, company donations and legacy gifts (through wills), as well as relying on an important team of volunteers throughout the year.

A Devant Charity

Tiggywinkles is a charity close to my heart, and my home, being just 5 minutes down the road from me in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, which is why I was so delighted to learn that it had been selected as one of Devant’s chosen charities to donate a proportion of its profits to in 2023.

On the back of Devant’s donation, I was invited to take a look ‘behind the scenes’ in the hospital in January 2024. Whilst I’ve been to the visitor centre too many times to count (I am a lifetime member), I was not aware of quite how big the hospital was, especially when you learn that it all started in 1978 in a small garden shed. 

Room upon room of hedgehogs

Emma from Devant and a hedgehog Inside, we were shown the triage and surgery rooms, as well as what would usually be the baby mammal and baby bird rooms. However, winter is a time where Tiggywinkles’ main intake is hedgehogs – mostly those that are too small to hibernate, and have been found out during the daytime. We saw room upon room filled with hedgehogs who require daily cleaning, feeding, and weighing, alongside treatments for any illnesses or injuries they may have.

We also saw some recently admitted patients including bats, red kites, buzzards, foxes and deer. We were then taken outside, where we were shown the ‘bat cave’ where rescued bats can fly safely indoors as well as stay warm and go back into a level of hibernation if ready, rows of aviaries housing a number of birds ranging from swallows, to pigeons, to corvids, to kites, stables housing recently welcomed deer, and a very large paddock for deer that are back on their feet but not quite ready for release.

The other side to Tiggywinkles is the visitors centre. There are unfortunately a number of animals that cannot ever be released back into the wild. These become the ‘residents’ of Tiggywinkles and form a beautiful space for people to learn more about the wildlife in Britain and see some of the animals up close, including the hedgehogs, tortoise, squirrels, foxes and badgers.

No animal turned away

A hedgehog It’s incredible to think that Tiggywinkles will not turn away an animal in need, and yet relies solely on the generosity of the community around us.

If you’d like to know more about how you can support Tiggywinkles, take a look here: https://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/help-us/.

If you’re in the area (Haddenham, Buckinghamshire) and have any old newspapers or tinned dogfood, please drop them off – they are always gratefully received!