SHE sits in the palm of his hand with room to spare.

No bigger than a small bar of soap, this baby hedgehog called Spike is one of the tiniest creatures ever nursed by Jason Palmer and his colleagues at New Forest Wildlife Park.

Weighing less than 200g, she was found abandoned and defenceless in the Hampshire countryside.

Her mother is thought to have been hit by a car or poisoned by slug pellets.

Luckily her baby was spotted by an eagle-eyed member of the public before she died of cold or starvation.

Last week the Daily Echo reported the rapid decline of the hedgehog in the UK.

A survey estimated that there are only one million hedgehogs left, a fall that is being blamed partly on a decline in their habitat.

But Spike is thought to be thriving following a sharp increase in the number of slugs and snails – thanks to the wet weather.

She was only five or six weeks old when she arrived at the park in Deerleap Lane, Longdown, and needed specialist care to survive.

Mr Palmer , the centre’s animal manager, said: “Hedgehogs rescued by the public and brought to us are normally bigger.

“This one stayed in a little warm box before being transferred to a small room with plenty of places to run around and hide. She was given specialist veterinary milk followed by tinned kitten food and crushed peanuts.”

The prickly creature has since been released back into the wild but there are other hedgehogs at the park for visitors to view.

Guides are staging animal encounter sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, allowing families to enjoy close-up view of the centre’s four-legged friends.