Help the hedgehogs in the heat with some simple steps
- Credit: Archant
They are undoubtedly one of Britain's favourite animals.
From Beatrix Potter's Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, to Sonic the Hedgehog, to Trusty, the National Trust mascot, the humble hedgehog is inextricably at the heart of British culture.
Now one of East Anglia's largest animal sanctuaries is urging members of the public to give hedgehogs a helping hand amid a national crisis for the creatures.
The hot summer days have been a source of joy for many, but they are causing major problems for the region's prickliest residents.
Hedgehogs, which are nocturnal, are being forced to forage for food and water in the daytime, due to food shortages, leading to dehydration.
The long periods of hot sun dries the ground, making it hard for hedgehogs to dig and find food or pools of rainwater to drink.
They also have to deal with daytime flies and maggots.
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George Rockingham, of the People for Animal Care Trust (PACT) Sanctuary, which is based in Woodrising near Dereham, said: 'The PACT Sanctuary by last December were caring for 280 very small hedgehogs, too small to survive winter in the wild.
'We managed to bring them all through to be released in April and May as healthy adults - some returned to the gardens where they were born, others were released in suitable woodland for them to live out their days in the wild.
'But already this year we have taken in 130 hedgehogs and they are now arriving daily.
'Sunday was no exception with five babies abandoned in their nest at five weeks old and another just out on its own in the heat.
'In 1950 there was an estimated 35m hedgehogs in Britain but today there is only about three-quarters-of-a-million.
'With summers like we are having many more will not see next winter.'
Hedgehog food supplies of bugs and moths have been damaged by chemical sprays used by farmers.
PACT recommends putting out a shallow bowl of water and a dish of cat or dog food not containing fish in the garden late in the evening to encourage and help hedgehogs.
Mr Rockingham said: 'We must do all we can to save the hedgehog from extinction after all they were here before we were, along with dinosaurs.'
If anybody needs advice or help with a hedgehog in distress or would like to read other ways to help them, phone 01362 820 775 at any time or visit www.pactsanctuary.org.