RSPCA centres inundated with prickly patients

Can you help the RSPCA to care for hedgehogs this winter?

RSPCA wildlife centres have been inundated with vast numbers of hedgehogs – many of whom are so sick and small they need help to survive the winter.

Between June and the end of November 1,669 of the prickly animals were brought into the charity’s four specialist centres around the country – nearly 500 more than the 1,189 brought in during the same period last year.

East Winch in Norfolk and Stapeley Grange in Cheshire have seen the highest numbers in need of care and are appealing for help.  

Many of the current patients were taken in after being found outside during the day by members of the public in an underweight, dehydrated and weak state. One tiny 112g youngster recently found its way into a porch – apparently looking for food and shelter.

It is not known what could have caused this surge of hog patients this autumn, but it is thought the rainy summer could be a possible cause.

Alison Charles, manager of East Winch centre in Norfolk, said: “The number of hedgehogs we are seeing come to us in need of help this year is just incredible, at present we have 193.

“Hedgehogs are not hard to care for, but when we have these kind of numbers of prickly patients it takes a lot of time to clean them out, medicate and feed them all. Staff are coping brilliantly but they are under increasing pressure.

“We are getting through 81 cans of dog food each day. We mix adult dog food in gravy and puppy food  together and are thinking a small cement mixer may be quicker than the potato masher we are using at present.”

Lee Stewart, manager of Stapeley Grange centre in Cheshire, said: “The sheer volume of hedgehogs we are having to deal with is overwhelming. We are full to the brim and it is really draining our resources and stretching us to the limit.

“It is hard to say exactly what is causing it. It’s certainly possible the wet summer could have had an effect – but it can be a mystery sometimes.

“What is certain is that anything people can do to help could make a real difference right now – whether it is donations of newspaper to give the hogs somewhere to burrow or sponsoring a hedgehog.”

The RSPCA recommends people worried about the hedgehogs in their garden may be too small to survive the winter can give them a helping hand by feeding them things like dog or cat food or even food scraps such as minced meat or scrambled eggs, and fresh water. It also may help to leave them a hedgehog-friendly area of the garden with heaps of leaves and brushwood for them to hibernate in – or a purpose built hedgehog box.

We can only care for animals like this with your help. Please text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

Alternatively you can text your donation directly to help the hogs at these centres on 70070 HHOG50 for East Winch or STAP70 for Stapeley £2 or £5 to 70070, or sponsor one of our hedgehogs in care at East Winch Wildlife Centre by contacting the centre on



Notes to editors
  There are four RSPCA wildlife centres – East Winch in Kings Lynn, Norfolk; Stapeley Grange in Nantwich, Cheshire, West Hatch in Taunton, Somerset and Mallydams Wood in Hastings, East Sussex. Monthly breakdowns of hedgehog numbers at each of these centres are available below.

  Interviews and images are available on request as are a sheet of hedgehog tips and facts.

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS

Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
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