Can you help our hungry hedgehogs?
PUBLISHED: 15:09 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 18 December 2019
Animal lovers at an RSPCA hospital are appealing for donations of dog food - because the hundreds of hedgehogs they are caring for are munching their way through 100 tins a day.
Alison Charles, manager at the Norfolk Wildlife Centre at East Winch, near King's Lynn, said the total number of hedgehogs cared for by the centre this year has now broken the 1,000 mark.
"The number of hedgehogs we have been caring for this year is incredible and when I last counted we had 339 being looked after by our staff and volunteers," she said.
"It's an awful lot of work to rehabilitate so many hedgehogs and the amount of dog food we are getting through is eye-watering.
"Hedgehogs are one of the nation's favourite wild animals and so we hope people might answer our plea and perhaps pick up a few tins of dog food during their Christmas food shop and donate them to us or visit our Amazon wishlist."
Most of the hedgehogs receiving care are usually cold, underweight, wobbly, dehydrated, collapsed and hungry when they arrive at the centre.
On arrival hedgehogs will be checked, weighed, given warmth either by a heat mat or a snuggle safe, food, antibiotics and fluids if dehydrated. As the hedgehogs put on weight they move from the hedgehog hotel into individual holding bays and then finally into outside hedgehog huts.
Hedgehogs are the number one species admitted to the centre and more than 23,000 of the creatures have been cared for since 1992.
Anyone finding one in the daytime should give it warmth - a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel is ideal - and offer it pet food or scrambled egg straight away before taking it to the RSPCA.
Healthy hedgehogs weighing over 500g should be left alone, but you can still provide supplementary food for them. If the weather is mild hedgehogs will naturally gain weight for hibernation and will be foraging for food overnight.
RSPCA staff advise that you put a bowl of dog or cat food (not fish-based) out in your garden and help them gain weight for when the weather is cold enough for them to hibernate.
Anyone wishing to support East Winch with their care of the hedgehogs can do so by purchasing some of the items needed from their Amazon wishlist. Click here to see.