People are being urged to lookout for hedgehogs - after a rise in the number injured by strimmers as Brits tackle their overgrown gardens, writes John Bett.

The spiked creatures are at risk as green-fingered gardeners started getting their bushes and lawns ready for summer.

One rescue centre called Prickles and Paws said it received more strimming injury admissions so far in March - than in the whole of 2020.

Sadly some of the hedgehogs had to be euthanised because their injuries were too severe and couldn't be helped by the Cornwall based centre.

It has now issued a warning as coronavirus restrictions are set to be eased in the UK and Brits emerge from lockdown to tackle their overgrown gardens.

Animal care and operations manager Katy said: “In 2020 we admitted 1,003 hedgehogs but only admitted six with obvious strimmer injuries.

"We are very concerned that in less than a two-week period we have nearly matched the total number of strimmer injury cases from last year.

"It has been absolutely heart-breaking to have so many of these lovely animals brought into us recently with injuries that could so easily have been avoided.

"The situation is now very serious and we desperately want to raise awareness and try and prevent more cases like this from happening across the whole of the UK.

"We understand that whilst in a national lockdown, with the weather improving, people will be spending more time outdoors in their gardens and will maintain them by gardening but we would ask that people just check their areas before working to avoid harming any wildlife.”

Award-winning registered charity and proud standing ‘Hog-spital’, Prickles and Paws is based just outside of Newquay, Cornwall.

It was established in 2013 by a mother and daughter duo, Diane and Katy South, and Katy has made it her life’s work to rescue hedgehogs and has nursed thousands back to good health over the years.

She continued: "Hedgehog numbers have seen rapid decline across the UK in recent years, with an estimated 523,000 remaining in England, Scotland and Wales.

"In fact, last year, they were reclassified as vulnerable to extinction in the UK by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"Our work is now more vital than ever to conserve this iconic species, particularly in rural areas where their decline is believed to be most rapid.”

The team is pleading with gardeners to carefully inspect all areas of long grass before mowing or strimming and to help spread the message that a simple check can save wildlife.

Hedgehogs love to nest and forage within this environment, and if approached they will curl into a ball.

They will not run away so borders, hedgerows and areas of dense undergrowth need to be checked carefully and thoroughly as this is where their nests will be.

A hedgehog’s nest may look like a pile of leaves or woven grass and using a pole or stick to move or part the undergrowth should help reveal any nests to the human eye.