North Devon Hedgehog Rescue in Braunton inundated with poorly hedgehogs
Britain's hedgehogs should be hibernating at this time of year but one rescue centre has been inundated with poorly creatures because of the recent wet weather.
Anni Nicholls, who runs North Devon Hedgehog Rescue from her home in Braunton, said she had double the normal number of hedgehogs in her care.
They normally begin to hibernate mid-October, but Anni said the torrential rain meant many were still wandering around.
According to Devon Wildlife Trust, the population of hedgehogs across the UK has seen a 44 per cent decline in the last 25 years.
Stephen Hussey, of the trust, said: "We can't say for certain, but it's likely the wet weather could have disturbed them from hibernation even in the best concealed nest.
"That is a problem because they should be using up their fat reserves and if they are active now there may be very little food around for them."
With so many hedgehogs out and about, Anni currently has 31 in her downstairs flat and shed and cannot take in any more. She is calling for volunteers to help.
She said: "It breaks my heart to have to turn people away but I have no more room.
"With the wet weather we've had more hedgehogs than ever before and I wish I could help every one of them but I'm just so stretched."
"I am desperate for volunteers and for people to come and help out for just a couple of hours a week to help me clean out and feed the hedgehogs."
Jackie Rogers has been volunteering with Anni for a couple of weeks and said it has been a rewarding experience.
"I've just moved to the area and as I am looking for a job it has been a great way to learn a new skill, meet new people and put my time to good use," she said.
"Plus you get to help these gorgeous little creatures, so it is all worthwhile."
Anyone who does find a hedgehog is urged to keep it warm and feed it a meat-based pet food, avoiding bread and milk as this can make them ill.
Anni said: "If anyone is looking after a hedgehog and notices any signs of illness I would urge them to take it straight to the local vet."
If you have a couple of hours to spare and can help Anni, you can call her on 01271 816989 or visit www. northdevonhedgehogrescue. org for more information.