Autumn is a critical time for hedgehogs, and rescues in Berkshire are currently “full to the brim” with the sick baby creatures and are having to turn new arrivals away.

There have been numerous recent reports of people finding hedgehogs out in the daytime on pavements or roads.

Ms Pauly Anderson, owner of the Hedgehog Cabin in Hook, said that this is the busiest time of year for hedgehog rescues.

“We get loads of autumn orphans,” she said. “Mums have no access to natural food, so are eating contaminated food so the babies then become ill.”

During the autumn harvest, fields are sprayed with weed killer. The chemicals then affect the soil below and kill all the insects that the hedgehogs would have eaten.

Ms Anderson also explained that if the hedgehogs are found out in daylight, they are likely suffering from hyperthermia and are trying to warm up.

“All the insects have been killed so they have nothing to eat,” she said. “It’s a childhood myth that hedgehogs eat slugs and snails, but they will eat them to stop the pain of starvation.”

She expressed that so many hedgehogs are being brought to rescues at the moment and that “every single rescue is full to the brim with sick babies.”

Despite this, Ms Anderson is urging those who have found sick hedgehogs to search for a rescue that can take them.

She said: “The public must not keep the hedgehogs, they must be brought to a rescue or they will die at home.”

“If local rescues cannot take them, they need to ring them all as there will always be a place. They need to act as this is an emergency.”

Ms Anderson is the owner of Hedgehog Cabin and can care for up to 10 hedgehogs at a time. Like many rescue owners, she works tirelessly to care for the sick hedgehogs.

She explained that if the hedgehogs are brought quickly enough to the rescue, they will be treated with antibiotics and other anti-parasite drugs.

She will then bottle-feed them and once they are big enough, they will be released back into the wild in a supportive garden.

“The owners of the garden are instructed to leave meat-based cat or dog food out for the hedgehogs,” she said. “They must not contain cereal as hedgehogs cannot digest that.”

She continued: “There’s no such thing as hedgehog food. Pet shops may sell this but it isn’t regulated.”

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