THE SCOTTISH SPCA is urging members of the public to call its animal helpline if they find a hedgehog this winter.
Staff at the charity’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre at Fishcross, near Alloa, are currently caring for 75 hedgehogs, almost twice the amount cared for during the same period last year, and the majority of which are too small and weak to survive outside during the cold weather.
Centre Manager Colin Seddon said: “Hedgehogs should be hibernating by now but there will be some out there who won’t survive without help.
“Most of the hedgehogs in our care have either been caught out by the long wet spell of weather and haven’t been able to store up the necessary body fat to go into hibernation or are from late litters, which is common.
“These youngsters will be out foraging for food such as earthworms, beetles, slugs, snails, insects, fruit and carrion but they’ll be finding it very difficult at this time of year.
“Many of them arrived weighing between 300g and 400g, almost half their ideal weight.
“We would be particularly concerned if a hedgehog is out during the day and would urge anyone who finds one to call us so we can come and collect it.
“They should try to contain it by picking it up using gardening gloves or a thick towel and placing it in a secure box. It can then be left with fresh water and tinned cat food until we arrive.
“Hedgehogs will struggle as the temperatures drop, so if anyone spots one during the freezing winter weather they should call us immediately.
“Our rehabilitated hedgehogs will be released once they achieve a suitable weight of over 600g and when the weather warms up to a consistent night time temperature of over four degrees centigrade.”
Anyone who finds a hedgehog this winter is urged to call the Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.