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Growing number of hedgehogs need help as they struggle with the weather in New Forest
SOARING summer temperatures are thought to have caused confusion among hibernating hedgehogs.
As winter closes in a Hampshire rescue centre says it is seeing a surge in hedgehogs needing help.
It believes that the prickly creatures’ bodies are telling them to hibernate as the temperature drops, but they are not ready to do so due to being born later in the summer than normal.
Prickly Pals Hedgehog Rescue in the New Forest has seen a dramatic increase in the last two weeks.
The centre, celebrating its first anniversary, is run from resident Leander Johnson’s home in The Drove, Blackfield, and has already re-released 53 hedgehogs.
But whereas Leander usually receives one or two calls a week, she has taken in 12 in the last fortnight.
“It’s been completely manic,” said the mother-of-two, who cares for them with help from husband Matt and several volunteers.
Most of these hedgehogs are juveniles – youngsters that have left the nest – and are suffering from dehydration, cold or lungworm.
Leander believes due to the balmy prolonged summer hedgehogs did not have their babies as they should in May, June or July, but later and the impact is being felt now.
As temperatures drop these juveniles have not built up enough fat reserves to survive hibernation, but their body is telling them to hibernate.
In their search for food, which is scarce, they are also using up any energy supplies and becoming weaker, leaving them in trouble.
The rescued hedgehogs will remain at Prickly Pals over the winter then be released.
A telltale sign that there is a problem is if a hedgehog is seen during the day.
Leander said she would urge members of the public not to delay to see if the hedgehog improves as it may prove too late and if weak they will also not be able to defend themselves against predators.
Residents can help by putting out water and food – dog food, cat food or cat biscuits – in shallow dishes, which should help the young juveniles build up their strength, but not milk, as they are lactose intolerant. “Everybody can make a difference,” said Leander.
“We have got to take responsibility for wildlife. Sometimes we can take it for granted.”
For more information log on to pricklypals.co.uk.
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