A Corby woman who has dedicated the past three years of her life to caring for hedgehogs has appealed for people to help these once-common garden visitors.
Jen Woodward, who set up a hedgehog hospital in her converted Great Oakley garage, has had to scale back her rescue service due to her health worsening.
Her not-for-profit organisation, Jen's Hedgehog Rescue, was inspired by her love for wildlife and wanting to help injured animals - she had previously worked for the RSPCA.
Now three and a half years after taking in her first patient and more than 500 rescues later, Jen has had to reduce the capacity of her hedgehog intensive care unit.
Working alongside the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), with which she is registered, Jen now needs help to foster the hedgehogs.
The 37-year-old mother-of-two said: "I can't look after as many hedgehogs as I used to. I am living with fibromyalgia and I've been struggling with chronic pain.
"My body attacks itself and my whole body is affected. It's a real inconvenience because I used to be fit and healthy.
"Now I need foster carers to look after the hedgehogs.
"I try to be as honest as possible. Hedgehogs proper stink. They are messy and they can poo. They are nocturnal, spiky, often moody and angry.
"Their cages take about 20 minutes a day to clean. Let's just say they are not guinea pigs."
Jen can provide training, support and equipment for anyone willing to help look after the orphaned and injured animals to enable them to be released back into the wild.
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Trust for Ornithology have found that hedgehogs have undergone a drastic decline within Britain over the past two decades.
To read the report visit The State of Britain's Hedgehogs .
It is estimated that the UK hedgehog population, once as many as 30 million in the 1950s, has declined to less than one million.
Jen said: "The hedgehog population has drastically declined but we are very lucky in Northamptonshire that we have large rural areas.
"Hedgehogs are doing better in urban environments - everybody wants a hedgehog in their garden."
People can put their names down on a waiting list to re-home a rehabilitated hedgehog.
Before being entrusted with one of the precious insectivores the adoptive family have to have a garden visit to make sure the environment is suitable.
Jen's top tips for a hedgehog-friendly garden are:
⚫ Create safe areas such as log piles, dense bush areas and leaf piles.
⚫ As well as purpose-made hedgehog food, wet or dry dog or cat food is ideal.
⚫ Provide small box-like homes with a feeding station which can't be seen by cats.
⚫ Don't use slug pellets or rat poison
⚫ Talk to neighbours to make a hedgehog highway to enable hedgehogs to move between gardens.
⚫ Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so don’t give them milk.
Jen added: "I've been very lucky with people helping me. Northamptonshire-based Butcher's Pet Care provide me with food for the hedgehogs and I have an Amazon wish list and a Pay Pal account to help provide the hedgehogs with everything they need.
"Anyone who would like to become a hedgehog foster parent can contact me via my Jen's Hedgehogs on Facebook."