A prickly problem has emerged at an animal welfare centre in Gloucestershire.
Staff at the Vale Wildlife Rescue centre, in Beckford, have been inundated with hedgehogs after do-gooders started handing them in at a record rate.
They are struggling to cope with the number of bristly visitors and have launched a desperate appeal for cat and dog food to feed them.
Kay Edwards, who works at the centre, said: “We have got around 175 hedgehogs at the moment so we would appreciate any cat food or dog food anyone can spare.
“Ideally, we’d like the meaty flavours because that is what they prefer rather than the fishy ones.
“The hedgehogs are very cute although they are a little bit smelly! And they get through a lot of food.”
Winter is a difficult time of year for the nocturnal creatures, especially young ones who are not yet fully grown.
Kay added: “We always get a lot of hedgehogs at this time of year because we get calls from people who find them in their gardens and are concerned about them.
“The juveniles who were born late in the year haven’t yet put enough weight on so it is likely some of them won’t make it through the winter months.
“So we take them in and feed them so they can build up their strength before releasing them when the weather gets milder, probably in April.”
The hungry hedgehogs have been getting through tins of dog and cat food at a rate of knots.
It costs £5 to feed each one for a week so it means the costs are quickly mounting up.
Caroline Gould, centre manager, said there were so many of the spine-covered cuties staff had not got round to naming them all. Instead they are all numbered and kept in pairs to enjoy some company.
“They are very sweet but they eat a surprising amount,” she said.
“It does cost a lot of money to feed them, especially when you consider we will probably be keeping them in until April.
“Any donations of dog food, blankets, or even money would be greatly appreciated.”
Anyone who finds a hedgehog and is concerned about its welfare can call the centre on 01386 882288.