By Hannah McFadyen
As winter sets in it seems that we’re not the only ones feeling the cold – hedgehogs are feeling the chill too.
A wildlife sanctuary is now looking after a whopping 325 hedgehogs and can’t release them yet due to the cold weather.
Kat McCauthan is the Assistant Manager at Gloucestershire based Vale Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary and helps look after the little beasts.
She says that they spiky critters can’t be released yet because they’re at risk in the cold weather and the sanctuary wants to give them the best chance of survival.
The 28 year old said: “We’ve got this many hedgehogs right now because the weather is so cold that we can’t release them.
“We have lots of autumn juvenile hedgehogs that haven’t gained enough weight to survive their winter hibernation.
“Usually we get more hedgehogs around winter, but we’ve got a lot right now and the amount of animals we take in is increasing.
“We’ve had 5,411 patients so far this year, which is already more than the 4,535 we had in total last year.
The sanctuary was founded by Caroline Gould in 1984 and has been in its current Beckford location for the past 20 years – it even has its own purpose built animal hospital.
“We often get hedgehogs that don’t weigh enough because they have their litters quite late.
“Usually they have one in May one in August or September and it doesn’t give them much opportunity to gain the weight they need for winter.
Vale Wildlife Sanctuary and Hospital are always looking for more donations, as well as donations of cat and dog food, especially right now as we have so many hedgehogs.”
According to The Wildlife Trust Hedgehog numbers have declined by 30% in the past 10 year and there are now thought to be less than a million of them left in the UK.
According to Vale Wildlife Sanctuary seeing a hedgehog out in the day usually indicates a problem with them and if a hedgehog hasn’t reached a weight of 450 to 500 grams by October, then they may need to be taken into care.