The RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre has been inundated with sick and tiny hedgehogs needing help to survive the winter.

Staff are busy caring for more than 130 of the prickly creatures in their purpose-built ‘hog hotel’.

Nearly 800 hedgehogs have been taken in by the centre this year alone and it is appealing for help in meeting the costs involved.

Many were found outside during the day, often underweight, weak, hungry and dehydrated.

One was found wandering in a garden, apparently looking for food and shelter, and weighing just 138g. Hedgehogs need to weigh around 600g to hibernate successfully.

Centre manager Alison Charles said: “The number of hedgehogs we are seeing coming in to us in need of help this year is just incredible.

“Although hedgehogs are tiny, they require just as much care and attention as the larger animals at the centre.

“When we have this number of prickly patients it takes a lot of time to clean them out, medicate and feed them all.

“It costs us £5.50 a week to provide accommodation, heat, food and drugs for a hedgehog for a week, so multiply that by 130 and I will leave the maths to you.

“Because of the weather and also the hedgehogs’ low body weight – most of them could be with us for a quite a long time.

“Anything people can do to help could make a real difference right now – whether it is a donation to help with their care or newspapers to give the hogs somewhere to burrow.

“All we want to do is make sure that we can do our very best for the hedgehogs that come into our care, and ensure we can get them fit and healthy and back out into the wild where they belong.”

Wildlife casualties can be taken to the centre from 8am to 10pm every day, all year round.

Anyone able to help is asked to send cash or a cheque to RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre, Station Road, East Winch, King’s Lynn, Norfolk.  PE32 1NR.

Find out more online at www.rspca-eastwinch-wildlifecentre.co.uk