A FURNESS hedgehog rescuer is urging gardeners to give the prickly creatures a helping hand as they emerge from hibernation.
Irene Cannon has been taking in the animals or eight years and last year released more than 70 after rehabilitating them at her Dalton home.
She is urging members of the public to take simple steps to help hedgehogs at this time of year.
“At the moment they are coming out of hibernation,” Mrs Cannon said.
“All hedgehogs should now be awake and a lot of them will have mated, with the first hoglets due to appear in late May to early June.
“They are nocturnal so any that people find during the day are in urgent need of help – a hedgehog laying on the lawn is probably very ill, normally because it’s dehydrated.”
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Mrs Cannon said leaving a shallow bowl of clean, fresh water can be ‘a lifesaver’ during the warmer months.
“If there is a hot dry spell the ground gets hard and the hedgehogs can’t get a drink so leaving water out will help them.”
The animals can be encouraged into gardens with a bowl of cat biscuits, and generally prefer areas with bushes and hedges.
Gardeners can avoid harming the animals by trimming long grass before strimming it, checking their compost heap and not using slug pellets.
Hoglets are abandoned by their mother at six weeks old and Mrs Cannon said that anyone finding one on their lawn should look for others, as there are normally four or five.
“Listen for a high-pitched squeak that will lead you to them – pick them up and put them in a high-sided box, take them in and keep them warm.”
She added that anyone concerned about a hedgehog’s welfare could call her on 01229 464829 for advice.