Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 19:16 UK

Special care for 'prickly blonde'

Blonde hedgehog (Pic: RSPCA)
The hedgehog will be released into a private garden

Staff at wildlife centre are nursing back to health an extremely rare but prickly character.

A blonde hedgehog, which was found weak and struggling in Gobowen, Shropshire, has been taken to the Stapeley Grange Centre in Cheshire.

A spokesman said they had never had a blonde hedgehog before.

The hedgehog, thought to be a few months old, will stay at the centre until she reaches a satisfactory weight and will then be released.

Recessive gene

Dr Andrew Kelly said the centre receives about 600 hedgehogs a year but has never received a blonde one.

"They are extremely rare so it's a delight to have one in our care," he said.

"We've worked hard to get her back to a healthy weight and are thrilled she's responded so well."

Blonde hedgehogs can be found on Alderney in the Channel Islands where they have become common since a pair was released in the 1960s.

Their colouring is caused by a rare recessive gene.

The hedgehog will be released into a specially selected private garden.

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