A HEDGEHOG rescue service is appealing for support.

Malvern Hedgehog Rescue, which cares for sick and injured hogs, was set up by Viv Smith, 62, 11 years ago.

Mrs Smith, who runs the service from her home in Matthias Close, said: “It’s really rewarding, bringing an animal back from the brink of death.

“I was working from home when I set the service up over a decade ago, as I had free time and I used to find hedgehogs in my garden.

“We operate by the public’s support, whether than be food donations or cash.”

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In 2009, Mrs Smith attended a specialist hedgehog animal first aid course, qualifying her to give life-saving fluid and medication.

Mrs Smith added: “If someone finds a hedgehog in their garden, never give it bread or milk.

“They can eat moist dog or cat food - do not give them anything else

“Many of them in the wild are not entering into hibernation because of the mild weather and the ones that do wake up early looking for food which is in short supply in their environment.

“I get many brought to me that are starving and dehydrated, so it’s important for people to leave suitable food out all year round for them to eat.

“We handle the hedgehogs as minimally as we can as we want them to keep their natural fear of humans, helping them survive in the wild.”

She also called for residents to ensure hogs can escape from garden ponds, and anyone gardening should take care not to injure an animal.

Currently, hedgehog population numbers in Great Britain are estimated at around one million, down from 30 million 50 years ago.

Large numbers are killed each year by cars while attempting to cross busy roads, others by diseases including cancer.

Badgers are the main predators of hedgehogs and areas with large populations of this predator will have low hog numbers.

Anyone who finds a hedgehog that seems in distress should keep it warm and in a high-sided, ventilated box and call Mrs Smith on 07780 834411.

Malvern Hedgehog Rescue can be contacted at: malvernhedgehogrescue.co.uk of visit the Facebook page Facebook page Malvernhedgehogrescue