Three abandoned baby hedgehogs whose lives were saved by a Poulton animal lover have piled on the pounds ready to be released back into the wild.
The once-tiny hoglets were rescued from certain death by healthcare assistant Angela Fenton, 53, who found them wandering around in broad daylight outside her Elm Avenue home in October.
Though she had no experience looking after wild animals, Angela nursed the youngsters back to health on a diet of meaty cat biscuits and dried meal worms, while keeping them cosy in a bed of newspaper and hay to stop them hibernating.
Now the hedgehogs - nicknamed Cheeky, Sleepy and Greedy to match their personalities - have doubled in size and are ready to be released back into the wild.
Angela, who works as a healthcare assistant at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said: “I’m over the moon that they have all survived over the winter months.
“They have put a lot of weight on and they are ready to go any day now.
“We took them in because I just couldn’t have left them, I’m and animal lover and I could see they would never have survived the winter.
“I’ve had a lot of people saying to me ‘I’ll take one as a pet’, but I say they can’t. It’s a wild animal and it belongs in the wild.”
The mum-of-five now hopes to release the three hedgehogs into a friend’s garden far away from roads and dangerous predators like foxes and badgers.
She said: “I’m going to be sad when they go. They’re like part of the family as we’ve had them for about six months.
“When they were small their prickles were quite soft but now they’re a lot harder. I’ve found there’s an art to picking them up.
“I can pick one up from his hutch and bring him towards me and the little head will come out and the nose tries to sniff around me.
“They are quite affectionate that way.
“They need to learn to forage for themselves and survive the cold weather.
“I think Cheeky will do quite well because he makes his own beds with newspaper and hay, but I’m a bit worried about Sleepy.
“He always eats last and you think ‘is he OK?’. He is OK, he just thinks he’ll eat it in his own time!
“It will be emotional to have to see them go, but I’m just so pleased they all survived.”
She added that her newfound animal expertise has made her something of a local celebrity.
She said: “I’ve had one lady come up to me while I was out shopping and say ‘are you the hedgehog lady?’
“My friend bought me two little hedgehog souveneirs. I’ve even had a Chrismas card with a hedgehog on it.
“I’m not sure what I think of being known as the hedgehog lady though!”