Don't be hedgy - these Hemel Hempstead critters need your help
A wild hedgehog rescue is helping these lovable creatures look sharp - especially at this time of year.
Toni Lamberti set up The Spikey Sanctuary in Hemel Hempstead from her home and takes in rescued hedgehogs which she looks after before releasing them once they are healthy.
But she needs you to keep on the lookout in case any small hedgehogs need her help, especially in the winter weather.
"We currently have 11 in with us who are all staying over winter as it’s too cold to release at the moment - with more coming in constantly. It’s hard work but I love it," she said.
But, the 26-year-old worries that especially during this time of year, smaller hedgehogs could be more vulnerable.
"We’re currently asking anyone who sees a hedgehog this time of year to have a look at the size and if possible weigh it," said Toni, who is also a registered carer with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
"Hedgehogs need to be around 600g and over to survive hibernation. If they’re under this then they need rescuing and overwintering with a rescue. You can pick one up with garden gloves and if needed, pop it in a box while a rescue place is found. If it’s very small or feels cold, it’ll need warming up slowly so you can pop in a hot water bottle or a plastic bottle with warm water wrapped in a towel to give a gentle heat."
Toni - who is also appealing for more foster carers and volunteers - added that hedgehogs can even be seen awake as late as January before they hibernate.
"Don’t panic if you see large, healthy hedgehogs through the colder nights. It’s only if they’re small, weak, injured or showing any other cause for concern that they need to be rescued.
"I spend my days checking hedgehogs, giving medications, cleaning out enclosures, feeding, watering and providing a safe place for them to spend winter so they’re healthy and fit enough to be released next year where they will hopefully thrive and breed to increase numbers further."
And Toni, who has a team of three volunteer foster carers, added: "I'm just trying to make a difference in the hope that these little critters are around for many years to come. They’re just amazing and deserve recognition, awareness and help just like any animal."
If you can help, either as a volunteer, a foster carer or if you see a hedgehog, get in touch with Toni via her Facebook page here