An animal charity is urging people to keep an eye out for poorly hedgehogs after cold weather left them struggling for food and water.
The New Arc, a wildlife and animal rescue centre in Auchnagatt, just outside Ellon, has taken in around half a dozen hedgehogs in just two days.
Co-founder of the centre Pauline Marley has warned the cold weather has resulted in fewer insects for the creatures to eat and less water to drink.
She is urging people to put out cat food and water to help any local hedgehogs.
Pauline said: “It’s been a very bad start to the spring for hedgehogs coming out of hibernation. There’s not a lot of natural food about up here because it’s so cold.
“We’ve taken in quite a few that are very weak, very dehydrated, and very underweight.
“We haven’t had a lot of rain so a lot of them just haven’t had access to water.
“When they come out of hibernation they usually come out really, really hungry and needing a good feed and a good drink so they’re wandering about looking.
“We had one the other day that had fallen down a hole, probably in search of water.
“We’ve had five or six in the last two days. It’s quite unusual to get that many in such a short space of time.
“We had that little warm spell when the hedgehogs started to wake up, but it didn’t stay warm so there’s no natural food. There’s very little insect life about at the moment, which is what hedgehogs would naturally eat.
“They’re travelling fairly big areas just to try and get something to eat and getting themselves in all sorts of difficult situations.
“We’d encourage people to put out appropriate food and water for hedgehogs if they know they’ve got them in their area. That would be brilliant.”
Pauline said cat food is ideal for hedgehogs, as well as kitten biscuits, but warned not to give them anything other than water to drink.
On Friday it emerged early provisional figures from the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre revealed that April had the third-lowest average UK minimum temperature for the month since records began in 1884.
And Wales, Scotland and England all reported their figures in their top five lowest ever recorded.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures, and seeing one out in the day time, unless they’re scurrying around with purpose collecting food or bedding, could be a sign they’re in trouble.
Pauline said: “Generally speaking, if a hedgehog is out during the day it’s an issue.
“If people take them home and feed them, if their system’s already closed down it can do more harm than good, so the best thing is to contact ourselves first.
“Ideally get them to us as fast as possible. Give us a ring and ask for advice.”
New Arc can be contacted on 07962253867.
Caroline Rough, 62, came across a female hedgehog recently in Portlethen which was unwell.
The creature has since been taken to the New Arc for treatment and Pauline confirmed she was still there but it was touch and go whether she would survive.
Caroline said: “I’ve got a rescue dog from Spain and he sniffed the hedgehog out. That’s how I became aware of her.
“Her eyes were open and her nose was poking through the grass. She wasn’t in a good condition.
“I’m hoping and praying she survives and gets through it.”