IT IS said that cats have nine lives but perhaps that applies to hedgehogs too.

Rescuer Thea Taylor rushed to the scene to rescue a hedgehog after residents in Coast Road, Pevensey Bay, spotted the cute creature crawling out from under a lit bonfire.

A relieved Thea said: “When I arrived I checked the hedgehog over and it was clear he had been very lucky.

“There were lots of burnt spikes and he was suffering from smoke inhalation. At first glance it didn’t look like the skin was badly affected, so I rushed the hedgehog back to East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Animal Service’s casualty centre.”

Once at the casualty centre at Whitesmith, casualty manager Karen Francis checked over the hedgehog, weighing more then one kilo in weight, for burns and other injuries.

Karen said: “I couldn’t find anything serious but he had a lot of burnt spines which smelt horrible.”

First aid was provided to the hedgehog including giving oxygen for the effects of the smoke inhalation and bathing the him in cool water to ease the effects on the skin.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue vet Mike Symons later checked the hedgehog over and was happy with its condition and treatment. The hedgehog will now be kept in under observation to monitor its breathing and skin condition to ensure no complications develop.

“The hedgehog will need to be closely monitored and only time will tell whether the skin has been badly affected, we hope he will make a full recovery” said Karen.

The rescue service is urging people to “Think Hedgehog” this autumn and to be careful when lighting bonfires.

Founder Trevor Weeks added: “As we go into winter many hedgehogs will be finding places to hide up and hibernate. We are asking people to follow our Top Ten Bonfire Safety Tips this autumn.

"It is unclear how may hedgehogs and other wildlife are killed in bonfires each year, mainly because they rarely get found afterwards.

"Numerous people have unfortunately had their bonfire celebrations ruined after finding escaping hedgehogs and other wildlife crawling out from bonfires burnt or injured.”

These are the top tips for keeping hedgehogs and other wildlife safe during the bonfire season:

Re-site the entire bonfire pile before being lit; use broom handles to lift the bonfire up to check for wildlife sleeping inside; with larger bonfires, erect a mesh fence with an overhang round the bonfire to avoid small wild mammals getting inside; light the bonfire at one side rather than all round so that any animals or birds inside have a chance to escape.