Can you help these prickly patients?
Concerned animal lovers from all over the country have been bringing hedgehogs to the Withy Grove Veterinary Clinic on Station Road due to the expertise of vet, Ian Wright - a parasitologist.
But with such a sudden influx, the practice now needs donations in order to continue the offer of this vital lifeline.
Veterinary nurse, Charlie Wade, who is keeping many of the hedgehogs at her home, said: “Hedgehog numbers have been in decline for a number of years with people tidying up the hedgerow in their gardens to keep vermin at bay.
“However this winter these much loved creatures and iconic symbols of our native wildlife, have had a massive health setback from two parasites – thorny-headed worm, which only affects hedgehogs, and liver fluke.”
The thorny-headed worm is picked up from insects and is a particularly nasty parasite that sticks to the wall of the hedgehog’s intestine, causing pain, infection and often death if it is left untreated.
Charlie, Ian and the rest of the veterinary team have set to work worming and treating the critters with antibiotics but they won’t be released into the wild until they are fully recovered and are back up to a suitable weight.
As well as dealing with the parasites, there are also a few hedgehog amputees that require specialist care.
And while many would think the hedgehogs would be bedding down away from the frosty weather, Charlie says it is essential that the patients are kept awake.
She said: ““It is critical that we keep the hedgehogs awake over the winter – when they normally hibernate in order to provide them with the treatment they need.
“This is why we’re appealing for help from the public in the form of food, bedding or cash donations.”
Members of the public can can join in the worthwhile cause by donating cat food, dog food, hay, shavings, newspaper or cash to help the hedgehogs make it through the winter.
Please visit the practice with any donations, click on www.withygrovevets.co.uk or telephone 01772 330103.