ThA is reminding people about the dangers of litter after a hedgehog had to be rescued when she got her head stuck tight in a smashed glass bottle.
A member of the public contacted the animal welfare charity after spotting the hedgehog struggling in Lambe Close, Snodland, Kent.
Inspector David Grant collected the hedgehog, who had the top of a smashed bottle wedged tightly round her head. He managed to safely free the hog before taking her to the RSPCA’s Mallydams Wildlife Centre, in Hastings, to be checked over.
Thankfully after two days recovery at the centre, the hedgehog was released uninjured back to the wild.
Inspector Grant said: “This could have been a much worse situation for this hedgehog but thankfully she was not injured.
“The majority of people do throw their litter away carefully but for the few who don’t, it can be very hazardous for animals.
“I suspect in this case, the hedgehog was looking for food when she got stuck.
“Most cases of litter affecting animals are preventable if rubbish is disposed of properly and responsibly.”
Animals looking for food can get trapped in tin cans and the sharp edges can cause injury. The RSPCA encourages people to clean and empty food containers before pinching them shut or cutting them in half before putting them in the recycling to try to avoid trapping or harming any animals or wildlife.
Elastic bands also pose a big risk to small animals and birds as these bands can wrap around their bodies or beaks and cause choking and other injuries, so people are encouraged to reuse them where possible or cut them open before throwing them away.
Broken glass can cause serious injury and small animals can get trapped in jars and bottles so householders are urged to clean and recycle glass as much as possible.
Plastic bags can suffocate animals or, if they eat them, can cause them to choke or can block their digestive system, but tying knots in bags before recycling can help to prevent this. Plastic can holders can also cause deep wounds to animals that get tangled in them or can even choke them so it’s best to cut the loops before disposing of them carefully. .
Last year, the animal charity answered 5,081 calls about animals affected by litter.
Seven out of 10 calls were about animals affected by angling litter (3,685) including old hooks, lures, netting and other fishing paraphernalia, and the rest were about general litter (1,396) such as plastic products and tin cans.
According to the RSPCA’s data, the bird species most affected by litter last year were swans (1,187), domestic geese (886) and gulls (440). Amongst mammals, domestic cats were most affected (146) followed by foxes (106), deer (74) and hedgehogs (53).
For more advice on how you can help, visit the RSPCA’s ‘Litter Costs Lives’ webpage.
If you see an animal in distress, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.