Hedgehogs are taking over in London Colney after Esther Chant converted her home into a rescue centre.

The 33-year-old has set up the centre for sick and juvenile wild hedgehogs in her Kings Road house.

It has become a shelter for the animals after she discovered underweight baby hedgehogs, known as hoglets, in her garden two years ago.

"I had never seen anything like it, they were so cute. With guidance from my vet, I took them in and started to look after them," she said.

"I haven’t looked back since, and I currently have 26 hogs in my home."

Miss Chant wakes up at 5am every morning to see to the hogs and comes home in her lunch hour to check medicate and feed them.

One problem hedgehogs face is they are often breeding twice during the warmer weather. It means the second brood does not often get the fat reserves needed to survive the winter.

Covering Hertfordshire, the rescue centre is taking in sick and injured hoglets, some have been fed milk which they are allergic to, or caught by gardening equipment while lying camouflaged.

Miss Chant, who works at a security company, has completed a first aid and rehabilitation course to help her take care of the animals.

She said: "London Colney is very lucky to still have hedgehos in the area. In some towns and villages, they are almost non-existant. They are wonderful creatures, and part of our tradition, part of our countryside.

"It’s been a busy few years. I look after them around the clock, cleaning, feeding, treating health problems, monitoring them through the night and administering re-hydration fluids.

"I personally fund all costs, from food to vet’s bills. It can be a bit of a conveyor belt at times, with so many patient’s coming and going.

"I’m glad to say they generally make a full recovery, allowing me to release them back into the wild.

"But sadly therea are some who don’t make it, despite my best effort which is always very sad and upsetting."

Miss Chant hopes to renovate her garage into a hospital for the animals and get some more help.

She added: "I didn’t expect it to take off - I love it. Hedgehogs need our help, they are in decline because of us. I do this because I would hate to wake up one day and never see a hog again. I just love how beautiful they are."

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Hedgehogs that are small when rescued need a 'soft release' back into the wild.

These hedgehogs are placed in a secure run outside and monitored to check that they are doing what hedgehogs should be doing - foraging, sleeping duting the day, making nests and curling into a ball.

Miss Chant, who names every hog after the place they were found, uses friendly hedgehog gargens for their final release, where the hedgehog was found if possible - providing the garden is suitable.

Miss Chant welcomes help, such as donations of food and building materials including plywood, posts, breeze blocks and wire.

"I have been overwhelmed by the interest the hedgehogs have had and have been so lucky to have received donations through the door, as well as food, housing and bedding," she said.

To help, search The Hedgehog Lady - London Colney Hedgehog Rescue on Facebook, where a donation link can be found as well as the centre’s Amazon wishlist.