The RSPCA is bracing itself for a busy winter after seal admissions jumped by 61%.

One of eight pups released back to the sea at Winterton on Sea, Norfolk, in February 2014.

The welfare group was called to help rescue orphan seal pups last December, when more than 100 were injured after an unexpected tidal surge.

It costs £22 a week to feed each seal and with each needs up to five months of rehabilitation.

One centre in Somerset is already almost full to the brim with pups and should storms hit like last year facilities will be pushed to the limit.

The influx of pups was the largest staff had seen in the centre’s 25-year history. Because the seal pups were so young each one needed one-to-one care and feeding by stomach tubing at three-hourly intervals.

Manager at RSPCA East Winch Alison Charles said: “Winter typically brings on stormy weather, which can cause huge problems for seals and their pups.

“If we experience the same kind of storm battering we did last year then it will be tough.

“The 108 pups we had in really stretched us because they require a lot of intensive care. We really couldn’t have managed without the staff and volunteers’ goodwill and doing extra shifts to make sure the pups were fed. They were vital.

“Space really was at a premium last year and our existing cubicles were having to house four or five seals rather than the usual two, while other animals were having to take up residence in makeshift pens so we could make room. We had swans in the operating theatre and hedgehogs in the visitor centre. There were animals everywhere.”

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