Wet weather sees flurry of poorly hedgehogs

The prickly creatures should be hibernating at this time of year but one rescue centre has been innundated with poorly hedgehogs.

A HEDGEHOG rescue centre in North Devon has been inundated with poorly creatures after the recent wet weather.

Anni Nicholls, who runs North Devon Hedgehog Rescue from her home in Braunton, said she currently has double the amount of ‘hogs than normal in her care.

Hedgehogs normally begin to hibernate around mid-October, but Anni said the torrential rain has meant many are still wandering around.

According to Devon Wildlife Trust, the population of hedgehogs across the UK has seen a 44 per cent decline in the last 25 years.

Stephen Hussey, of the Trust, said: “We can’t say for certain but it’s likely the wet weather could have disturbed them from hibernation even in the best concealed nest.

“That is a problem because they should be using up their fat reserves and if they are active now there may be very little food around for them.”

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With so many hedgehogs out and about, Anni currently has 31 hedgehogs in her downstairs flat and shed and cannot physically take in anymore.

She said: “It breaks my heart to have to turn people away but I have no more room.

“With the wet weather we’ve had more hedgehogs than ever before and I wish I could help every one of them but I’m just so stretched.

“I am desperate for volunteers and for people to come and help out for just a couple of hours a week to help me clean out and feed the hedgehogs.”

Jackie Rogers has been volunteering with Anni for a couple of weeks and said it has been a rewarding experience.

“I’ve just moved to the area and as I am looking for a job it has been a great way to learn a new skill, meet new people and put my time to good use,” she said.

“Plus you get to help these gorgeous little creatures, so it is all worthwhile.”

Anyone who does find a hedgehog is urged to keep it warm and feed it a meat-based cat or dog food, avoiding bread and milk as this can make them ill.

“If anyone is looking after a hedgehog and notices any signs of illness I would urge them to take it straight to the local vet,” said Anni.

If you have a couple of hours to spare and can help Anni, you can call her on 01271 816989 or visit www.northdevonhedgehogrescue.org for more information.

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