Heatwave leaves dehydrated Shropshire hedgehogs fighting for their lives
Rescue groups across Shropshire are being overwhelmed by hedgehogs suffering from dehydration caused by the drought.
One centre alone has taken in 244 sick hedgehogs over the past month – a 30 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which is based in Ludlow, said some of its centres that care for the animals had been calling in to say they could not take any more.
Chief executive Fay Vass said: “With the very hot dry weather hedgehogs and other wildlife are struggling to find natural sources of water, and the ground is so dry and hard that their natural food is hard to come by too.
"We have 700 rescue centres, and lots have phoned us saying they can't take any more, and that puts pressure on the other rescue centres."
Miss Vass said baby hedgehogs were particularly vulnerable.
"They are not particularly maternal, and if mum is struggling she will not be able to feed her babies, she might even abandon them," she said.
The charity is asking people to leave shallow bowls of water in their gardens and, if possible, some hedgehog food or meaty cat or dog food.
Miss Vass added: “We all know how horrible it is to be thirsty, but this goes beyond that, there is so little natural water around at the moment, the hedgehogs are having to rely on us being kind enough to leave a drink for them.
"It must be like an oasis in a desert.”
Cuan Wildlife Rescue in Much Wenlock has taken in 244 sick hedgehogs since June 23, compared to 188 last year.
"We are absolutely inundated with them," said manager Fran Hill.
"It's not just hedgehogs, all sorts of animals are struggling in the heat, it's almost desert-like conditions.
"The hedgehogs normally dig for worms, with with the hard, dry ground they can't do that."
Last year a group of teenagers raised funds to build a second hedgehog rescue shelter at Cuan.
Some homeowners have reportedly found hedgehogs struggling in ponds and swimming pools after apparently falling in while trying to drink.
Gardeners are also being urged to take care when trimming bushes or burning rubbish so they don't disturb hedgehog nests.
The UK population of hedgehogs are thought to have plummeted below a million, 30 per cent down since 2002. In the 1950 there were more than 30million.
BBC Springwatch host Chris Packham has warned the species could be extinct in Britain by the time today's children have families of their own.