By Harriet Whitehead
A bald hedgehog is getting daily massages with aloe vera after stress caused him to lose all of his prickly spikes.
The hedgehog, affectionately named Bear, was brought into the Cuan Wildlife Rescue Centre in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, by a concerned member of the public who at first didn’t know what he was.
Bear is now being cared for by staff who believe he went into hibernation with an ear mite infection which took hold – causing him stress and leading to the spines falling out.
But manager Fran Hill and the team believe the future’s bright for the juvenile hedgehog with his spines expected to grow back.
Fran, 52, said: “It’s heartbreaking, it really is.
“We can only assume that he went into hibernation and had these ear mites which took hold. When hedgehogs get stressed they lose their spines.
“I think that prematurely brought him out of hibernation which added to the stress.
“He must have been so cold as well.
“I’ve worked for Cuan for ten years and have seen probably six or seven bald hedgehogs but never one as bad as this. We’ve had some in the past that have lost 65 to 70 per cent of their spines but Bear’s got to have lost about 97 per cent.
“He was brought in on Sunday by a member of the public who at first wasn’t sure what he was.
“He was incredibly hungry. We put some cat food in front of him and he ate the lot. He also drank almost solidly for four minutes.
Fran and the team estimate Bear, who was named by staff member Dani Peat, will be with them for a couple of months before being released into the wild.
He’s being massaged with aloe vera once a day and will also have a weekly bath with a special anti-bacterial shampoo to sooth the skin.
Fran said: “We think the spines will grow back but it will just take a bit of time.
“We need to keep conditioning the skin to encourage blood circulation and promote spine growth.
“He’ll have one bath a week and a daily massage with aloe vera. His skin is very dry which may be partly down to dehydration.
“He was clearly a big hedgehog because he’s got so much loose skin so he’s downsized an enormous amount. He weighs 1lb 4oz at the moment which is a reasonably good size for a hedgehog but he’s clearly been much bigger.
“We don’t know how long he’ll be with us – each animal responds differently but we anticipate it will be at least a couple of months then he’ll be released back into the wild.
“We try not to get attached to the animals but it will be difficult not to with him. He’s so adorable. We don’t usually name them but because he’s going to be with us for a while we decided to.
“The fact he’s eating us out of house and home is a good sign. If they will eat they’re almost half way there. We’ve a great team and he’ll get all the care he needs. He’s a little poppet.”
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