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RSPCA braced for a hectic hedgehog season as calls spike in the summer

THIS summer looks set to be a hectic season for hedgehogs for the RSPCA after calls about the prickly creatures peaked at this time last year. A total of 6,200 calls about sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA's national helpline in 2020, 1855 of which were made in July and August alone compared to just 199 calls taken in January and February. Across 2020, an average of 5 hedgehogs per day were admitted to 1 of the charity's 4 specialist wildlife centres, but in the peak months of July and August, this rose to an average of 8 per day; the equivalent of 1 poorly or orphaned hedgehog every 3 hours.

The RSPCA's Scientific Officer Evie Button said:- "July and August are our busiest months for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our 4 wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation. We receive more calls about hedgehogs than about almost any other wild mammal. With a total of 6,200 calls taken last year, averaged out, we get about 17 calls a day relating to these iconic and beautiful animals."

The top reason given by callers for contacting the animal charity about a hedgehog were that they had found a sick or injured animal (4,333). Other reasons included finding an orphaned newborn or juvenile (436) or an animal that was trapped or entangled (433).

Evie continued:- "Because we get so many calls about injured or trapped animals we have some useful tips to help keep hedgehogs safe in the garden. Please remember to remove sports and fruit netting, cover drains and holes, check before using a strimmer or mower, look in compost heaps before forking over and avoid using slug pellets as these are poisonous to hedgehogs. We also receive calls from concerned members of the public who have seen a baby hedgehog; a hoglet; on its own. Our advice is firstly to check whether they actually need rescuing, by watching from a distance. Generally, it's best to leave them alone as they'll likely be looking for food, but there are a few things you can do to check if the hoglet does need help. If they're larger than apple sized (about 300g) and they're not in immediate danger, sick or injured, monitor from a distance. If you're concerned, you can try offering food and fresh water. The best type of food to give hedgehogs is cat or dog food, whether that's tinned or crushed biscuits; or you can buy good quality specialist hedgehog foods from wildlife food suppliers. During the summer months, only intervene straight away if you find a baby hedgehog in immediate danger (such as on a road), a baby hedgehog that weighs less than 300g (about apple sized) without an adult hedgehog nearby, or if the baby is sick, injured or surrounded by flies."

More details on what to do if you find a sick, injured or orphaned hedgehog as well as how to help them in your garden, can be found on the RSPCA's website.

To report concerns about an animal contact the RSPCA's Hotline on:- 03001234999. With 1 call every 30 seconds, the RSPCA is always very busy, but summer is the charity's busiest period. With the cruelty line experiencing a very high volume of calls and because of the high workload we're currently facing, we are prioritising emergencies. If you have an urgent concern about an animal in immediate danger, we urge people to be patient and wait for your call to be answered. It is also worth considering whether you can get an injured animal to a local vet if possible.  To help the RSPCA rescue, rehabilitate and re-home or release animals, please visit:- RSPCA.Org.UK.

Hollyoaks Hunk David Tag Announced To Lead The Cast In St Helens Christmas Panto

ROLL up, roll up! Goldilocks and the Three Bears comes to St Helens Theatre Royal this Christmas and producers have announced that Hollyoaks favourite David Tag will appear as the Ringmaster. The spectacular seasonal production promises St Helens audiences a fantastic festive treat complete with madcap comedy capers and all the fun of the circus. The theatre's Christmas pantomimes have become a real highlight of the festive season year after year, and with Goldilocks audiences are being guaranteed:- 'the greatest show on earth.' Goldilocks and the Three Bears will run at St Helens Theatre Royal from Friday, 10 December 2021 to Sunday 9 January 2022. Tickets are on sale now.

David Tag, who will take on the role of Ringmaster, is best known for playing Sylvester 'Sylver' McQueen in award-winning Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks where his character has been involved in a number of key storylines.The Manchester born star has also enjoyed roles in Emmerdale and the 2020 coming of age drama S.A.M, which has been a hit at a host of British film festivals. And he can next be seen as Prince Charming in a new short film.

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears marks his pantomime debut, and the actor says:- "I'm really thrilled to be cast in my first panto and I can't wait to get started."

The rest of the all star cast will be announced soon. The magical show from Regal Entertainments Ltd promises family fun, unbelievable circus tricks and lots of excitement as Goldilocks, with the help of the 3 Bears, tries to save her Big Top from a rival circus owner. Audiences can also expect high production values, stunning and colourful costumes, laugh out loud comedy and a fantastic selection of chart hits to sing and dance along to.

Theatre Manager Chantelle Nolan says:- "Our pantomimes have become one of the real highlights of Christmas for many people. We had to cut last year's panto short because of Pandemic restrictions, while our Easter show was streamed online. So we really can't wait to get back on stage and present Goldilocks to our audiences in person this season. It's a magical show full of fun, excitement and laughter. And we're also absolutely delighted to welcome David into the St Helens panto family; I know he's going to make a fantastic Ringmaster for our unmissable Christmas circus."

St Helens Theatre Royal will ensure that any Government guidelines still required in December will be in place to ensure the safety of theatregoers, venue staff, cast and crew. Goldilocks and the 3 Bears will run, at St Helens Theatre Royal, from Friday, 10 December 2021 to Sunday, 9 January 2022. Tickets are on sale now starting from ₤16. Tickets can be booked over the phone or in person at the box office, between 10am and 5pm, from Monday to Friday. Tickets can also be purchased online. For more information please visit:- StHelensTheatreRoyal.Com.

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