Rare blonde hedgehog nursed back to health

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The Independent Online

They say blondes have more fun but this prickly little character is only just getting back on her feet after weeks of sickness.

The extremely rare blonde hedgehog is the latest admission to the RSPCA's Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire.

Believed to be just a few months old, it was found weak and struggling by a member of the public in Gobowen, Shropshire.

The hedgehog, which is not an albino, weighed just 110g when she was delivered to the rescue centre at the end of July.

Since then she has tripled her weight and should be ready for release in a few weeks when she hits the optimum weight of 600g.

Dr Andrew Kelly, manager of RSPCA in Cheshire, said: "We receive around 600 hedgehogs a year at Stapeley Grange, often orphaned juveniles, but we've never had a blonde hedgehog before.

"They're extremely rare so it's a real delight to have one in our care.

"We've worked hard to get her back to a healthy weight and are thrilled she's responded so well.

"We're looking forward to releasing her in to a safe environment now where she will hopefully continue to thrive."

The hedgehog, which does not have a name as staff never name wild animals, is one of a very small number of blonde hedgehogs to be found in the UK.

They are extremely rare except on the Channel Island of Alderney where they have become common since a pair were released in the 1960s.

Their unusual colouring, caused by a rare recessive gene, means blonde hedgehogs have little chance of survival in the wild as their conspicuous coats often prove attractive to predators such as foxes, badgers and dogs.

She will therefore be released in a specially selected enclosed private garden where she can be fed and monitored.