The Scottish SPCA has issued a warning to “leave hedgehogs alone” after three hoglets died in its care last week.
The charity said that it had seen a rise in the baby hedgehogs being admitted to its National Wildlife Rescue Centre after being picked up by members of the public “without any reason”.
On June 9, seven hoglets were admitted to the centre – three of which died due to separation from the mother.
The wildlife rescue charity said it has repeatedly issued appeals to leave baby animals in the wild alone unless they are sick, visibly injured or abandoned by their mothers but claim members of the public have continued to do so.
April Sorely, assistant manager of the centre, said: “We are currently seeing a large number of new-born hoglets coming in to the centre who have been lifted from gardens by the public despite the mother being present.
“This will be incredibly stressful for both the mother hog and her babies,” she continued.
“It also puts a massive strain on our already overstretched team as the hoglets need hourly feeds on top of all the other animals we care for.”
She added that the deaths of the little babies were also extremely distressing for the staff members who tried to do everything in their power to help them survive.
The Scottish SPCA advised that if people should only contact its helpline if a baby hedgehog is spotted completely on its own, or appears thin and wobbly.
Hedgehog mums are easy to stress, and can end up killing or eating their babies if they are put under duress – so the charity also advised that people should avoid causing unnecessary stress on them.
Ms Sorely said: “If you are aware of a nest in your garden, try not to continuously check it as this causes the mother a great deal of stress each time.
“We usually have a few casualties come in every year who have been injured by garden appliances such as trimmers and some whose nests have been disturbed.
“We would ask that people are careful when in their gardens and to check for wildlife in long grass, leaf litter and other areas before beginning any work.
“If a hedgehog nest is disturbed then try and relocate it as close to the original location as possible.”
She added that while the team at the centre appreciates that members of the public care about these animals, the quality of help and mindfulness can often mean the difference between life or death for the babies.
Ms Sorely said: “The team here at the centre are fantastic at what they do, but they’re no substitute for an animal’s real mother. Please help us to keep these animals in the wild where they belong.”
People concerned about an animal can call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999 for advice and assistance.