Gardeners are being warned to watch out for sleepy hedgehogs waking from hibernation – after this prickly creature was caught in the blades of a strimmer.
The little hog – named Braveheart by rescuers – had just emerged from his winter sleep when the gardening tool ripped into his body.
It sliced into his skin, tearing off a patch of his spines, and leaving him fighting for life.
He is now being cared for at the Help a Hedgehog Hospital in Gloucestershire, which is warning gardeners to take care.
Ironically, Braveheart had only been released by the centre ten days earlier after spending the winter there.
Spokeswoman Carole Deuten said: “Braveheart had spent the winter with us so he had already had a long time of it.
“We then released him into a lady’s garden and it turned out her neighbour had contracted gardeners in – using strimmers.
“This was just ten days after we released him. He’s usually a very feisty hog and he’s been getting livelier again.
“He’s a big boy, weighing a kilo, and he’s putting on a bit of weight.”
Braveheart is being treated with antibiotics and pain relief following the incident on Monday and vets are hoping to keep infection at bay.
However, they are also worried about dehydration and trauma which can be fatal.
Hedgehogs sleep in a ball among long grass and undergrowth during the day – a prime target for lawnmowers.
When they hear noises from power tools, instead of running away, they curl up tighter in self defence.
Carole thinks it might take six weeks for Braveheart to be able to roll up again.
She is stressing that gardeners should check the undergrowth before using any bladed tools to help protect the hedgehogs.
“As well as strimmers, there are other dangers that emerge in the summer months. We had one hog who fell in a pond and slug pellets are always a danger at this time of year.
“It can be a bit of a battleground.”
Hedgehog numbers are plummeting, down from 30 million in the 1950s to 0.9 million this decade, and the rescue centre sees about 20 strimmer related incidents each year.
She hopes that by raising awareness more hedgehogs will be spared the same fate.