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Animal sanctuary issues alert over hedgehogs nesting in bonfires
HEDGEHOGS face a prickly situation on Bonfire Night.
Animal-loving couple John and Tonia Garner care for the sick and injured creatures at their sanctuary in Norfolk.
Tonia, 50, who runs the “Hogpital” Ward, said the animals are in danger because they like to set up house in bonfires before they are set alight.
She said: “Last year we had some horrifically burned hedgehogs which had made their homes in bonfires built too early.
“I’m begging people not to do it.
“There is nothing more inviting to a hedgehog than a pile of logs and sticks.
“They move in at night when nobody knows they are there until it’s too late.”
Tonia added: “If people could just refrain from building their bonfires until the day they intend to light them the hedgehogs wouldn’t have a chance to move in.
“So many of these gorgeous creatures would be saved.
“They are the most wonderful, cutest little creatures but so many will die an awful death inside a bonfire with their babies if people don’t heed this advice.
“Build it and light it straight away – please do not leave it overnight as it becomes a death trap.”
Hedgehogs live in woody, dry nests and often mistake bonfire pile-ups for a place to live.
But once the bonfire is lit it is extremely difficult for them to escape.
Every morning the babies are weighed before being bottle fed milk
Tonia and John set up the centre, dubbed Foxy Lodge, at their home in Hemsby, where they care for owls, a deer, a fox and other wildlife.
They currently look after 30 injured, abandoned or orphaned hedgehogs, nursing them in a spare bedroom.
Among their charges are Fred and Flo, who were left by their mother when they were less than three weeks old.
Caring for the animals is a full-time job and the couple spend every day feeding, weighing and grooming their adopted pets.
Despite being at full capacity, Tonia says they would not turn away a sick animal in need of their care.
She said: “We can’t refuse them because if we don’t take them they die, so there is no option. We will do whatever we can.”
And she warned people not to give hedgehogs milk, as they are lactose intolerant and it can harm them.
Instead she suggests feeding them meat-based cat food and chicken.
Foxy Lodge is an independent centre run solely on donations.
To find out more log on to foxylodge.yolasite.com