A HEDGEHOG rescue group in Otley has been using its ‘lockdown time’ to boost its online presence.

Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue has been very busy over the past few months taking in, assessing and caring for sick or injured animals - and hand feeding many hoglets.

Despite that, the group has still found time to enhance its dedicated Facebook page and create a new website, www.pricklypigs.co.uk, to promote its work.

It has also produced a video for a justgiving page that has been launched to help fund the purchase of more specialist equipment.

Founder Diane Cook said: “The generosity of the people of Otley and surrounding communities has taken us back and we have had lots of offers of help and support from the community that allowed us to start our rescue.

“We have just launched our next fundraising campaign for our next phase of care which includes buying an intensive care incubator, nebuliser and suction machine that will allow us to care for a higher number of patients and especially those that are really ill.”

Referring to how busy things have been recently, she added: “It has been a crazy few weeks where we have been running at over double our capacity and every minute of the day, and night, has been spent either taking in and assessing new hedgehogs, especially hoglets, looking after the ones we have in, or hand feeding hoglets.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had both a positive and negative effect on hedgehogs. The increased time at home has given people plenty of time to tidy those areas of the garden that would have remained untouched - unfortunately often disturbing nesting hedgehogs.

“And the shortage of gloves and sanitisers has tripled our outlay on these products, if we can get hold of them at all, while potential fundraising events have not been running.

“On the positive side, not working has allowed us time to care for more hedgehogs and establish ourselves with our new web page and expanding Facebook page.”

Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue was only started by Diane and her family last year after they had found a hedgehog they were concerned about.

Diane recalls: “We contacted the British Hedgehog Preservation society who put us in touch with a local rescue. They were able to treat the hedgehog but it was too small to be released and they were struggling with high numbers of patients and we were asked if we could take it home and feed it up.

“So began the slippery slope! Fast forward six months and we had our own ‘prickle’ of hedgehogs overwintering with us.

“With the support of other local rescues we began being mentored in hedgehog first aid, treatment and rehabilitation.”

For more details visit www.pricklypigs.co.uk. Donations, meanwhile, can be made via the group’s page, entitled ‘Buy items of equipment for Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue’, at www.justgiving.com.