Following on from bald bears, bald penguins and bald gorillas, there is now news of Baldrick the bald hedgehog. The 4 month old hedgehog was abandoned by his mother and taken to Foxy Lodge Wildlife Rescue Centre in Great Yarmouth by a woman who found him in her back garden.
Wildlife specialists Tonia and John Garner are now caring for Baldrick in the hope he can be released back into the wild. Staff at the animal sanctuary are giving Baldrick a daily massage with baby oil to try and make his spines grow. Baldrick is also being given antiseptic scrubs and receiving treatment for mange, the disease caught by mites. “He would not survive out in the wild,” said Mr Garner, “Hedgehogs rely on their spines for protection. An adult hedgehog has between 5,000 and 7,000 spines so they provide a degree of warmth.”
A hedgehog’s spines are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin. Their spines are not poisonous and, unlike the quills of a porcupine, cannot easily be removed. However, spines normally come out when a hedgehog sheds baby spines and replaces them with adult spines. This is called “quilling.” When stressed or sick, a hedgehog can also lose spines.
Baldrick, named after the Blackadder character, is not the first hedgehog to lose his spikes. Back in March of this year, staff at the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital appealed for help in the Daily Mail – they had a hedgehog called Spud with no spikes. They tried lotions, potions and massages with baby oil but Spud still had skin problems. But in July Spud’s spikes made a sudden comeback and the little hedgehog is beginning to get his confidence back.
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