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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 12:24 GMT
Huge hedgehog goes on Atkins diet
George the hedgehog
An average adult hedgehog should weigh 600 to 700g (1.3 to 1.5lbs)
A hedgehog that weighs nearly four times as much as its fellow spiny mammals has been put on a diet.

Staff from the Wildlife Aid Centre in Leatherhead, who discovered the 2.2kg (4.8lbs) animal in a volunteer's garden, initially thought he was ill.

But after closer inspection George was found to be simply overweight.

The hedgehog, who was being looked after following an eye injury, has now been put on a high protein diet similar to the Atkins plan.

'Atkins diet'

Head nurse Sara Cowen said: "At first we thought he had a condition called ballooning - where air gets trapped under the skin - but when he was brought in we realised he was just a huge fat hedgehog.

"He was being kept in a greenhouse and had been chomping his way around their garden. He has been eating the bread left out for the birds and slowly going up in weight.

She added: "We've got to reduce his weight and we've got to do it slowly. Cat food is high in protein and we're stopping him eating bread. So it's a bit like the Atkins diet."

George is also being kept in a heated greenhouse to stop him going into hibernation because toxins released from his excess fat during the winter could kill him, Ms Cowen added.

Staff at the Wildlife Aid centre said the average adult hedgehog should weigh between 600 and 700g (1.3 and 1.5lbs).

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