Plummeting overnight temperatures have meant hundreds of hedgehogs have been forced to stay longer at the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre.

More than 200 prickly patients are being cared for at the centre’s Hedgehog Hotel with many  delayed being released due to the weather not being warmer.

A window of at least four days with temperatures above 4C at night is needed before hedgehogs can be released.

The recent freezing weather has caused a backlog of hedgehogs waiting for release.Many were found outside by members of the public during daylight hours last year, arriving at the centre hungry, dehydrated and underweight.

Centre manager Alison Charles said: “When we have this number of prickly patients in the centre they require as much care and attention as larger animals as it takes a lot of time to clean them out and feed them all.

“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.

“We have 97 hedgehogs ready for release and we’ll be calling finders as soon as we see an improvement in the weather – unfortunately, that doesn’t look like anytime soon.

“We return hedgehogs back to the area they were found via the member of public who brought them into the centre, so we hope the public of West Norfolk will help us in getting these hedgehogs home.”

Even when the 97 hedgehogs can be released, there will still be more than 100 needing care.

Staff are appealing for the public to help in any way they can, whether it is a financial donation or tins of Pedigree dog food in gravy, newspapers, or small towels and face flannels to give the hedgehogs somewhere to burrow.

Donations can be dropped-off at the centre and it also has an Amazon wish list online.

For more information about caring for hedgehogs, visit the website: www.rspca.org.uk