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Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 15:43 UK

Prickly problem solved by centre

Blondie the rare blond hedgehog: Pic Guernsey Hedgehog Rescue Centre
Blondie's colouring would make him easy prey to badgers and foxes

A rare blond hedgehog has been given a safe new home in Guernsey.

The animal was nursed back to health at an English rescue centre after he was found at a West Midlands care home.

But Blondie's rare colouring makes him especially vulnerable to hedgehogs' natural predators in the UK, such as badgers, foxes and dogs.

Dawn Robin from Guernsey Hedgehog Rescue Centre said Blondie, who now weighs about 640g (1lb 7oz), is "a born survivor and adorable".

Blond hedgehogs, which are not albinos, are a genetic variant and extremely rare.

They have a very hard life from the day they're born
Dawn Robin, Guernsey Hedgehog Rescue Centre

The Channel Island of Alderney is thought to be the only place in Europe where the animals, nicknamed "Alderney spike girls", breed naturally.

A population of about 1,000 is believed to exist.

Not only does their colouring make them easy prey for predators, it also prevents them conserving heat, meaning many perish when the temperature drops.

"They have a very hard life from the day they're born," Ms Robin said.

However, Blondie's chances of survival have increased considerably now he is in Guernsey.

"He could live for about eight years, but in the wild hedgehogs are lucky if they make four," Ms Robin added.




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