10.11.09

BALDRICK

Oh, bless!

A bald baby hedgehog is being nursed back to full
prickliness after being abandoned by its mother
when it was born with almost no spikes.

The four-month-old creature, named Baldrick, was
bald apart from a few prickles when he was found
in a garden in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

He is now being looked after by John and
Tonia Garner at Foxy Lodge
Wildlife Rescue.

Mr Garner, 50, who is a signaller for Network Rail,
said Baldrick, who was named after Blackadder's
unlucky sidekick, is very unusual.
"He's a bit of
a rarity," he said. "We've had 45 hedgehogs
altogether, but he's the first
one without any spikes."


Hedgehogs' wrinkly bodies normally have around
500 spikes, which protect them from predators
and the elements plus keep them warm. Until
he grows spikes, Mr Garner said releasing
Baldrick would be "pointless".


Mr Garner added: "There's no way he would
survive if he was released now. It would be like
releasing a polar bear which has just been
shorn like a sheep into the North Pole."


Each day the Garners clean Baldrick using antiseptic
scrub and massage baby oil into his body to soften
up his skin. They hope making his skin softer
will allow spikes to come through.


Mr Garner said Baldrick, one of 22 hedgehogs
currently being looked after by him and his
wife, was a bit of a character.


"Baldrick loves mealworms," he said. "As a treat,
he gets more than his fair share and would jump
through a hoop for one. You go into his room
and he will go up to the edge of the cage and
put his paw up. He's not satisfied until he gets
a few mealworms. He's quite a character."


He believes Baldrick was abandoned by his mother
when he was just weeks old.
"I think the mother
suspected he would not survive and they're quite
ruthless in the wild. If one of the babies is not
keeping up it will be abandoned. Luckily,
Baldrick was found, otherwise he would
have been dead a long time ago."


When the hedgehog was brought to Foxy Lodge
at the age of about six weeks he weighed
240g, but is now up to about 800g.


The animal sanctuary was started up by Mr
and Mrs Garner in May and has had just under
180 animals through its doors, including a
lamb, bats, seagulls, barn owls and a kestrel.


If you would like to make a
donation the details are
here.


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