CONCERNS from callers about sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs are expected to spike this season says the RSPCA.
The animal rescue charity says July and August are its busiest months with almost 2,000 calls about hedgehogs taken via the national helpline.
A total of 6,200 calls around hedgehog concerns were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2020, over 1,800 of which were made in July and August alone. This is compared to around 200 calls taken in January and February.
Meanwhile, 35 calls were made from Warwickshire residents, with nearly 150 from the West Midlands and around 50 from Worcestershire.
Across 2020, an average of five hedgehogs per day were admitted to one of the charity’s four specialist wildlife centres, but in the peak months of July and August, this rose to an average of eight – the equivalent of one poorly or orphaned hedgehog every three hours.
RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button said: “July and August are our busiest months for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.
“We receive more calls about hedgehogs than about almost any other wild mammal. With a total of 6,200 calls taken last year, averaged out, we get about 17 calls a day relating to these iconic and beautiful animals.”
The top reason for hedgehog calls were for them being either sick or injured. Other reasons included finding an orphaned newborn or juvenile or an animal trapped or entangled.
To help the critters, Evie advises people to remove any netting, cover drains and holes, check before using a strimmer or mower, look in compost heaps before forking over and avoid using slug pellets which are poisonous to hedgehogs.
She added: “We also receive calls from concerned members of the public who have seen a baby hedgehog – a hoglet – on its own. Our advice is firstly to check whether they actually need rescuing, by watching from a distance.”
If the hoglet is apple-sized and not in immediate danger, sick or injured, Evie says it should be left. Cat or dog food is suitable to feed hedgehogs for those still concerned about a hoglet’s health.
Intervention is necessary for a baby hedgehog in immediate danger, such as in a road, if it is alone and looks smaller than an apple, or if the baby is sick, injured or surrounded by flies.
Visit www.rspca.org.uk for more advice.