Villagers in Hornton came face to face with a pair of hedgehogs when they took part in a workshop to learn how to foster young hedgehogs this winter.
Residents Chris & Steve Woodcock are helping out Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue by fostering the small animals, in a bid to keep them healthy so they can be let back into the wild next spring.
And the couple are spreading the word on how to look after the little critters, in the hope that others will volunteer to take on a baby hedgehog, or hoglet, too.
Mr Woodcock said: “At this time of year, the rescue centres can be inundated with `autumn juveniles’ that are injured, abandoned or just underweight and, therefore, too small to safely hibernate.
“They need to be over-wintered, with shelter, warmth and food provided, so they can build up their body mass and safely be released into the wild in the warmer weather. Without fostering, they would probably die.”
Among keen recruits at the workshop was animal-lover Hannah Pelzer-Smith, aged 12.
She said: “I had no idea that hedgehogs were in such danger. It would be so easy for a lot of people to help, as long as they get the right advice.
“Because they’re so cute, you have to keep remembering that you’re not trying to tame them or treat them as a pet - just make them fit enough to go back into the woods or gardens next year.”
Hedgehogs are Britain’s most loved wild species according to polls. However, few people know how to encourage or look after them and there has been an alarming fall in their population in this country: 95 per cent down since the 1950’s and a further quarter or more in the last decade.
Warwickshire Hedgehog Rescue deal with sick, injured and abandoned hedgehogs until they can be released back into the wild. They have set up a network of fosterers in the Banbury and Leamington region and always welcome more help.
You can find out more at www.warwickshirehedgehogrescue.org or call Brian Scott on 01926 336714.