AN animal lover has gone postal at people for carelessly dumping elastic bands on the floor fearing they are a danger to hedgehogs and birds.

Teresa Harding has begun collecting the bands - which she believes are being tossed away by Royal Mail employees - when she takes dogs Lily and Leo for their twice daily walks.

In just a few weeks, she has amassed hundreds and is now keeping them in a ball at home.

Teresa, of Valentines Drive, Colchester, wants posties to take more responsibility about what they are throwing away.

She said: "When I take my dogs for a walk I have picked up hundreds of elastic bands," she said.

"The problem is because they look like worms, birds either eat them or feed them to their babies.

"A friend of mine runs a hedgehog hospital and she has shown me the sort of horrible injuries it can cause to them.

"It was just one day a few weeks ago I started noticing them and now I can't stop seeing them.

"They look like the ones which are used by the Royal Mail.

"I have thought about going down to the post office to complain and even about dumping a ball on top of one of their vans.

"It isn't difficult to put them on your wrists which is all I do when I see them on the floor and pick them up.

"My fear is, it isn't just happening on the route where I walk my dogs - it is probably happening right across Colchester."

Teresa, 59, is a dedicated supported of environmental issues and has been researching horrific injuries which can be caused to hedgehogs by rubber bands.

Cases have been recorded of them becoming wrapped in them for life with their skin eventually growing over it and causing painful injections.

She added: "We have a hedgehog which comes into our garden which we feed.

"It is really worrying to think they could be hurt because of littering."

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We continue to conduct campaigns to raise awareness of this issue among our postmen and postwomen and encourage the re-use of rubber bands wherever possible.

"We are also reducing the number of rubber bands we buy, by collecting them from incoming mail at mail centres and distributing them to nearby delivery offices to be re-used.”