A rare African pygmy hedgehog was left too fat to roll up into a ball and had shed its spines after it was dumped with the rubbish at a block of flats in Bermondsey.
Hedgy was close to death when she was discovered by a passer-by, who spotted her in a wet cardboard box near the bins in Anchor Street, off Southwark Park Rd.
She was taken to the Blue Cross animal hospital at Victoria, where she is being nursed back to health. Because this rare species needs to live in specific conditions, her skin had become covered in sores after she was abandoned in the British climate, and her spines had mostly fallen out. “We were really shocked by the state Hedgy was in,” said Blue Cross nurse Shakira Miles.
“Her skin condition had been neglected for so long that it had caused almost all her spines to fall out and she is so overweight that she can’t even curl into a ball properly. She certainly wouldn’t have survived for much longer if she hadn’t been found.” Poor Hedgy also had in-growing claws and her ears were blocked with sores and scabs, also covering her eyes, due to an infestation of mites. Blue Cross vets expect that within the next three to four weeks, Hedgy’s spines will start to grow back before they can find a new home for her.
Becky Thwaites, Blue Cross Public Affairs Officer, said Hedgy was just one of many exotic pets being abandoned on our streets, as owners realised they did not have the expertise to look after them properly. “These trends in ‘novelty pets’ are very worrying. Animals like African hedgehogs look really cute and are easy to buy online, but the novelty can soon wear off when people realise they are not easy to care for and can live for up to eight years,” she said.
In May two bearded dragons were dumped in a Camberwell stairwell and left to die and had to be rescued by the RSPCA.