These tiny newborn hedgehogs are proving a handful for carers at a rescue centre - after the mild weather triggered a string of early orphaned arrivals.

The seven babies - from two separate families - have all been handed in to the Prickly Ball Farm Hospital in Devon in the last week.

Staff say Britain's mild spring weather has caused the females to come out of hibernation and give birth around a month early.

This means that animal rescue centres are dealing with the inevitable orphaned offspring weeks earlier than expected.

The three smallest orphans at Prickly Ball are just 72 hours old. They were found huddled in a pile of blankets by a homeowner clearing out his garage in Dartmouth.


The other four are around four weeks old and were found nesting in a bag of rubble by a couple who are renovating their home in Plymouth.

All seven are being cared for by Andrew Ward, 26, who is general manager of the rescue centre near Newton Abbot.

He and his staff are currently feeding them with goat's milk every two hours throughout the day and night.


"I do the feeding during the night so I need a lot of coffee," he said. "But they are gaining strength quickly and doing well."

The animals will gradually be weaned onto solid food and then taught how to fend for themselves before being released back into the wild aged four or five months.