Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 11:00 UK

Rare hedgehogs go into the wild

The female blonde hedgehog
The female hedgehog was found last summer in Shropshire

Two rare blonde hedgehogs have been released into the wild after being rescued last year.

The rare male and female were among only three to be admitted to the RSPCA's Stapeley Grange in Nantwich, Cheshire, in the last 15 years.

The female, found in Gobowen, Shropshire in July last year, was released at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens in Tudor Park, Runcorn.

The male, found in Anglesey, is now living at Tatton Park in Knutsford.

The two animals are not true albinos but their blonde features are due to a rare, recessive gene.

The male blonde hedgehog
The male is now living at Tatton Park in Knutsford

Andrew Smith, supervisor at Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, said the hedgehogs were being accommodated at the two sites so they could live in a wild environment with a degree of safety and protection.

They were not released where they were found because blonde hedgehogs can be attractive to predators.

"Blonde hedgehogs are extremely rare so it was a real delight to have two in our care," Mr Smith said.

"We've worked hard to get them back to a healthy weight and are thrilled they've responded so well.

"We're now looking forward to seeing them both thrive in their happy new homes."

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