This winter could be particularly hard for hedgehogs, as new RSPCA data from England and Wales reveals that the numbers of the creatures admitted to its wildlife centres have already topped 2020 figures.
In Somerset, 131 calls about hedgehogs were received by the RSPCA throughout 2020, and the total taken in by the animal charity’s four wildlife centres was 1,883. That figure was already higher by mid-November this year – 1,896.
In 2020, the RSPCA received more than 6,000 calls from people worried about sick, underweight, injured or orphaned hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs born late in the year often do not have enough fat reserves to survive the long winter hibernation without some help. They’ll have to forage for longer to find enough food – often during the day – and that’s often when they are spotted by concerned animal lovers determined to help them.
The decision whether or not to intervene with a hedgehog depends on how much they weigh during early winter and whether they are healthy or not.
RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button said: “A cold snap can be lethal for underweight hedgehogs if it means they go into hibernation before they’ve put enough weight on.
“If you see a young hoglet that’s only about the size of an apple – around 300g – they really need to be rescued and taken to a rehabilitation facility, as they won’t have enough fat reserves to last the winter.
“We fear this may turn out to be a bad year for hedgehogs as admission numbers into our centres have already overtaken 2020’s. We urge people to visit our website for advice on what to do if they see a sick or injured hog, particularly if it’s out and about during the day.”
The majority of hedgehogs are cared for at the RSPCA’s four wildlife centres including at West Hatch near Taunton.
The RSPCA’s rescue teams will be out in all weathers this winter, rescuing animals from abuse, neglect and suffering. To Join the Christmas Rescue and help them be there for the animals in need, visit www.rspca.org.uk/rescuexmas.
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