RSPCA warns against pygmy hedgehog craze

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A hedgehog in a pair of hands
Image caption African pygmy hedgehogs require temperature-controlled enclosures

The RSPCA has issued a warning after a surge in the number of African pygmy hedgehogs being kept as pets.

The animal charity said the exotic creatures required a “considerable commitment”.

It added they “would need a large temperature-controlled enclosure to mimic where they come from.”

RSPCA senior scientific officer Nicola White said: “It is difficult to adequately meet the animal’s needs in a household environment”.

‘Far too cold’

The warning comes after one of the hedgehogs was found abandoned in a small hamster carrier at a station on the London Underground.

The hedgehog, now named Paddington, was rescued on 11 August by Jill Sanders, an animal collection officer.

“I was relieved that the little hedgehog was still alive as it was far too cold for him,” she said.

“He was crammed into a tiny cage and must have been very disoriented and frightened.”

It is unclear if the pet had been lost or purposefully left at the station.

The RSPCA warned that any temperature lower than 18C would induce torpor, a form of hibernation, in the animal, whereas anything above 30C would be likely to cause heatstroke.

For any pygmy hedgehog being kept as a pet, the ideal environment would be a large enclosure, with “space for digging, foraging and exercise” and kept between 24C-30C.

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