WHILE most of us have been celebrating that rarest of things - a hot, dry British summer - the heatwave has not been good news for everyone, with hedgehogs and other wildlife struggling to cope with the scorching conditions.

Wildlife lover Viv Smith, who runs Malvern Hedgehog Rescue, has seen a marked increase in the number of distressed animals being reported and brought in this summer.

“It is a red alert situation really,” she explained. “Hedgehogs and other wildlife are so emaciated and dehydrated at the moment because they cannot find their natural sources of food and water.

“The ground is so hard that they are not able to dig for food.”

Mrs Smith is calling on members of the public to help out by putting out food and water for hedgehogs.

Ideal things to leave out include shallow dishes of water, meat-based dog or cat food, cat or kitten biscuits and dried meal-worms.

Bread and water should not be put down for hedgehogs as they are lactose intolerant and gain no nutritional value from the bread.

The summer also brings about other problems for hedgehogs, such as myiasis - more commonly known as flystrike - and members of the public are being urged to keep an eye out for any hedgehogs out in the daytime, as this is usually a tell-tale sign that something is wrong.

Mrs Smith, who has nine hedgehogs in her care at present, set up Malvern Hedgehog Rescue 18 months ago.

“I’ve always loved wildlife and I started putting food and water down and getting hedgehogs coming into my garden and I became fascinated by them,” she explained. “As I work from home I thought this was something I could do and so I started to integrate it into my daily routine. But it soon takes over!”

Anyone who finds a hedgehog in distress should try to secure it in a high-sided box and call Mrs Smith on 07780 834411.