Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 15:23 UK

Atkins diet hedgehog slims down

George the hedgehog at 1.7kg (3.7lb)
George has lost an average of 40g (1.4oz) per week

An overweight hedgehog has shed nearly a quarter of its body weight after adopting a high protein diet similar to the Atkins plan.

George the hedgehog weighed 2.2kg (4.8lb) when staff at the Wildlife Aid Centre in Leatherhead, Surrey, discovered him in a volunteer's garden.

He was put on a high protein diet in November before starting a daily exercise regime in February.

He now weighs 1.7kg (3.7lb) shedding 500g (1.1lb) on the strict diet.

Becky Banning, General Manager at the Wildlife Aid Centre, said George had originally grown overweight due to eating high fat foods intended for birds.

'Strict regime'

"Hedgehogs normally feed on whatever they find in the garden, so George was picking up peanuts and bread.

"Now he's on a strict food regime, so he's fed cat food once a day in the evening, and no bread," she said.

"It's the hedgehog equivalent of the Atkins diet, and it's about keeping him away from the fat and giving him more protein, so there's a tenuous similarity with the human Atkins diet," she added.

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

They expect George to reach that weight in 4 to 5 months.


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