RSPCA braced for a hectic hedgehog season as calls spike in the summer
This summer looks set to be a hectic season for hedgehogs for the RSPCA after calls about the prickly creatures peaked at this time last year.
A total of 6,200 calls about sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA's national helpline in 2020, 1855 of which were made in July and August alone compared to just 199 calls taken in January and February.
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 per day - the equivalent of one poorly or orphaned hedgehog every three hours.
July and August are hedgehog heavy
The RSPCA's 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 given by callers for contacting the animal charity about a hedgehog were that they had found a sick or injured animal (4,333). Other reasons included finding an orphaned newborn or juvenile (436) or an animal that was trapped or entangled (433).
Evie continued: "Because we get so many calls about injured or trapped animals we have some useful tips to help keep hedgehogs safe in the garden. Please remember to remove sports and fruit netting, cover drains and holes, check before using a strimmer or mower, look in compost heaps before forking over and avoid using slug pellets as these are poisonous to hedgehogs.
Baby hedgehogs can be seen during the summer months
"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.
"Generally, it's best to leave them alone as they'll likely be looking for food, but there are a few things you can do to check if the hoglet does need help. If they're larger than apple-sized (about 300g) and they¿re not in immediate danger, sick or injured, monitor from a distance. If you're concerned, you can try offering food and fresh water. The best type of food to give hedgehogs is cat or dog food, whether that¿s tinned or crushed biscuits - or you can buy good quality specialist hedgehog foods from wildlife food suppliers.
"During the summer months, only intervene straight away if you find a baby hedgehog in immediate danger (such as on a road), a baby hedgehog that weighs less than 300g (about apple-sized) without an adult hedgehog nearby, or if the baby is sick, injured or surrounded by flies."
To report concerns about an animal contact the RSPCA's Hotline on 0300 1234 999.
With one call every 30 seconds, the RSPCA is always very busy but summer is the charity's busiest period. With the cruelty line experiencing a very high volume of calls and because of the high workload we're currently facing, we are prioritising emergencies. If you have an urgent concern about an animal in immediate danger, we urge people to be patient and wait for your call to be answered. It is also worth considering whether you can get an injured animal to a local vet if possible. We also have advice and information on our website: www.rspca.org.uk.
To help the RSPCA rescue, rehabilitate and rehome or release animals, please donate online.