An abandoned hedgehog has been discovered in a university hall of residence with its spines cut off in a horrific act of cruelty.
The attack left the hedgehog, called Frankie by carers at the Cawthorne Hedgehog Rescue and Care Centre, needing painkillers.
Frankie was rescued after a maintenance man at Sheffield University raised the alarm when he noticed the hedgehog at 3:30am in the morning.
Allan Broadhead, 77, who runs the Hedgehog Rescue Centre in Barnsley with his wife Anita, told the Sheffield Star: “It’s an act of absolute cruelty and whoever has done it needs to be brought to book. Frankie was in such bad condition that we actually thought he might have been used as a football.”
In their six years as hedgehog carers, the Broadheads have “never seen a hog in such a state of neglect and deliberate harm.”
Although Frankie narrowly avoided any life-threatening injuries, there’s no guarantee his spines will grow back.
His recovery is likely to take up to eight months, during which time the cut spines need to shed so new ones can regrow in their place.
Hedgehogs have around 5,000 spines, which are vital in their protection against predators. Thousands of Frankie’s had been sheared off.
Frankie’s attackers are likely to have contracted the highly contagious ring-worm the mini hedgehog is suffering from, which will hinder his recovery further.
The University of Sheffield said: "We are currently trying to find out why the poor hedgehog was in our university accommodation.
“It's good to hear the hedgehog is now doing well at the Cawthorne Hedgehog Rescue and Care Centre."
Allan Broadhead added: “If his spines grow back we’ll be able to release him back into the wild, if not we’ll keep him at the sanctuary and create a little safe area for him.
“We’ll do our best to get him well but it’s going to be a long road.”
Frankie’s injuries have been reported to the RSPCA, who are investigating the incident.
A spokesperson told The Independent: “The RSPCA was called about a hedgehog found near to Sheffield University, and understands that the animal is being cared for a local wildlife organisation.
"We are told the hedgehog has damaged spines, and that a vet has confirmed that this hedgehog is suffering with ringworm - a disease that can sometimes cause hedgehogs’ spines to fall out. However, we cannot rule out a deliberate act of cruelty, so anybody with any information can call us on our inspectors’ appeal line in confidence on 0300 123 8018."
If you see a sick or injured hedgehog, please call the RSPCA cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999. In addition, you can record your sighting at www.gardenwildlifehealth.org.
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