AN animal welfare charity went to the aid of more hedgehogs in Hampshire last year than any other type of creature.

The RSPCA has marked the start of Hedgehog Awareness Week by revealing that rescue teams across the county helped 307 of the prickly creatures in 2019.

Nationally more than 2,700 hedgehogs were admitted to RSPCA wildlife centres last year.

New Forest Post:

An RSPCA spokesman said the number of hedgehogs rescued by the charity tended to increase in April as they they came out of hibernation and went in search of food.

He added: "We also see a surge in other wildlife in spring as the breeding season gets under way.

"RSPCA rescue teams are continuing on the frontline as designated key workers and the charity has launched an emergency appeal to help it continue to rescue, rehabilitate and release the animals most in need through the crisis."

RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button added: “Regardless of coronavirus, wild animals still need rescuing and the breeding season is the start of a really busy time for us.

“We’ll have lots of calls about baby birds, orphaned fox cubs and hedgehogs which have come out of hibernation and need help to build up their body weight.

“It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week which is very appropriate as these much-loved prickly creatures are the most frequent visitor to our wildlife centres.”

New Forest Post:

Hedgehogs are often taken in by the RSPCA because they are orphaned, underweight, injured or exhibiting abnormal behaviour indicative of ill health.

Last year the RSPCA responded to 4,818 hedgehog-related incidents - an average of 13 a day.

Since the start of the lockdown, the charity has dealt with a total of 10,817 wildlife incidents, 540 of which involved hedgehogs.

Evie added: “Watching wildlife is such a great source of comfort to people at the moment and we are so grateful to the public for calling us when they are concerned about any animal.

"However in the case of baby animals, including fledglings, it’s often better to leave them where they are as they are often rescued by their mum or get themselves out of trouble."