VOLUNTEERS at a busy animal rescue centre used to be able to enjoy some well-earned rest during the winter months.
The Wildlife Orphanage at Barlby near Selby was formerly relatively quiet in winter, with fewer poorly young animals to look after from November onwards.
But Annette Pyrah, who has run the Wildlife Orphanage at her detached home for five-and-a-half years, said milder Octobers over the past couple of years have led to rising numbers of hedgehogs that need caring for over winter.
Ms Pyrah said that this winter, the increase in numbers of young hedgehogs born too late in the season to have built up enough fat to hibernate has been more noticeable.
Hedgehogs usually end their breeding season in the middle of October, but unseasonably mild weather in October 2017 encouraged them to continue for longer than usual.
Ms Pyrah said: “It’s all down to climate change. They have a second litter in the autumn, usually in September, but because of the mild weather it is getting later and they are breeding later. We have had 32 hedgehogs in the last couple of weeks.”
Ms Pyrah said in mid December the rescue centre admitted two tiny hedgehogs, each weighing just 214g.
She added: “Hedgehogs need to have a good layer of fat and weigh around 650g to last them through hibernation, so these late born youngsters will remain in rescue until next spring. Between now and March should be quiet but we are just full of hedgehogs.”
It costs around £5 a week to feed each hedgehog with cat food and specialist hedgehog food and the centre must also find cash for heating and medical bills.
Donations of cat food and biscuits for the hedgehogs can be dropped off at the Wildlife Orphanage at Low Mill, York Road, Barlby, YO8 5JP.
Annette can be contacted on on 0771 1883072. For more information, go to www.wildlifeorphans.co.uk