The foster carers helping hedgehogs
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Hedgehogs: The foster carers helping to save them

A hedgehog rescue centre has told how it is using foster carers to preserve one of the country's most recognisable mammals.

In the 1950s, there were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs in the UK. Now that figure could be fewer than one million.

Jayne Moore, of Greensted Hedgehog Rescue, in Wortwell, Norfolk, said the centre was doing all it could help boost the numbers.

"The autumn juveniles that come in, we make them well again and then we use foster carers who look after them until they're ready to be released in April and May," she said.

Ursula Juta, one of the foster carers, said: "The thought that hedgehogs might be extinct in my lifetime spurred me on to do this.

"In the mornings I had to clear the hedgehog and make sure there was food and water and I had to weigh him once a week as well."

The decline in numbers is mainly down to a loss of their natural habitat caused by housing development, experts say.

Last year, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust appointed a dedicated hedgehogs officer after it emerged Ipswich was a hotspot for the mammals.