Cornwall-based Hedgehog Rescue Centre, Prickles and Paws is desperately urging people to check their gardens, land or allotments for wildlife before strimming or mowing their lawn.

This plea comes after receiving more strimming injury admissions in the last two weeks than in the whole of 2020.

During March 2021 alone, the dedicated team, made up almost entirely of volunteers, has had four helpless hogs admitted with severe injuries caused by household strimmers and had to immediately redirect a fifth critical cases straight to a local veterinary clinic. Tragically, of these five cases, four had to be euthanised due to the severity of their injuries.

Award-winning registered charity and proud standing ‘Hog-spital’, Prickles and Paws is based just outside of Newquay, Cornwall and was established in 2013 by hog-loving mother and daughter duo, Diane and Katy South.

Katy has selflessly made it her life’s work to rescue hedgehogs in their many hours of need and has nursed thousands back to good health over the years. Diane has even put her retirement on hold to devote herself tirelessly to the charity on a full-time voluntary basis. In 2020 alone, the team admitted over 1,000 hogs and some 65 in 2021 already.

The team is pleading with gardeners to carefully inspect all areas of long grass before mowing or strimming and to help spread the message that a simple check can save wildlife, as they love to nest and forage within this environment. If a hedgehog is approached, its natural defence is to curl into a ball. They will not run away so boarders, hedgerows and areas of dense undergrowth need to be checked carefully and thoroughly as this is where their nests will be located. A hedgehog’s nest may look like a pile of leaves or woven grass and using a pole or stick to move or part the undergrowth should help reveal any nests to the human eye.

Animal care and operations manager of Prickles and Paws, Katy said: “In 2020 we admitted 1,003 hedgehogs but only admitted six with obvious strimmer injuries.

"We are very concerned that in less than a two-week period we have nearly matched the total number of strimmer injury cases from last year. It has been absolutely heart-breaking to have so many of these lovely animals brought into us recently with injuries that could so easily have been avoided.

"The situation is now very serious and we desperately want to raise awareness and try and prevent more cases like this from happening across the whole of the UK. We understand that whilst in a national lockdown, with the weather improving, people will be spending more time outdoors in their gardens and will maintain them by gardening but we would ask that people just check their areas before working to avoid harming any wildlife.”

"Hedgehog numbers have seen rapid decline across the UK in recent years, with an estimated 523,000 remaining in England, Scotland and Wales. In fact, last year, they were reclassified as vulnerable to extinction in the UK by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Our work is now more vital than ever to conserve this iconic species, particularly in rural areas where their decline is believed to be most rapid.”

When a hedgehog is found injured, time is of the essence, with every passing minute being critical. Particularly in summer months, flies can lay eggs in their wounds which will go on to hatch into maggots.

The centre suggests picking the animal up using gardening gloves or old towel and securing it in a high-sided box with something comfortable to snuggle into and hide under. Then covering the box and keeping it somewhere warm and dark whilst you call a rescue centre or a veterinary clinic for advice. Gentle heat can be provided using a warm water bottle placed under part of the box or a drinks container with warm water placed in beside the hedgehog.

Subsequently, if in Cornwall, the rescuer can contact Prickles and Paws by calling 07926 576164. All vets will also treat wildlife for free and most vets will have some sort of out of hours provision.

For more information about the charity and to find out how you can help, visit the website at: