By Ellie Duncombe
A pair of orphaned porcupines received a teddy bear to replace their mums to keep them warm.
Fluffy and Lulu, two infant Mexican hairy dwarf porcupines, were found all alone and brought to the Nosara Refuge for Wildlife in Costa Rica to be raised under the care of a team of experts until they are ready for reintroduction into the wild.
Fluffy arrived at the centre in December 2018, while Lulo was brought in in January 2019.
The cute porcupines have now become inseparable and they even hang out together with a teddy bear which is double their size.
Lis Key, PR and Communications manager for International Animal Rescue, said: “The teddy bears are used at the Refuge to provide warmth and comfort to very young animals that have lost their mothers.
“They’re a sort of mother replacement.”
According to Lis, it’s not known whether their mothers were killed, they abandoned their infants or were just feeding in nearby trees and planning to return later.
Neither Fluffy nor Lulu’s mother could be found.
Lis said: “This species of porcupine can be found from Mexico to Panama, and it is an arboreal species.
“The porcupines’ known predators are ocelots and boas, but their biggest threat is habitat loss as a result of human development.”
The team at the Nosara Refuge has registered a huge increase in infant wildlife being brought in.
Media manager at the centre, Laura Wilkinson, said: “It’s a real problem here when well-intentioned people try to help.
“Arboreal wild animals often leave their infants to go and forage for food without having to deal with the baby.
“Sometimes the baby wanders off or even falls from the nest, but the mom always comes back and can find the baby if she hears it crying.
“I suppose there are occasions where the mom is inexperienced and does just abandon the infant, but I would give it several hours before I gave up on her returning.
“What people should do is put the infant in a safe space, not on the ground where ants can eat it or dogs can kill it, like in a makeshift nest in a tree and then just sit and wait for mom to come while making sure predators can’t get to it.
“Sadly, crying babies get eaten if mom doesn’t shut them up.”