Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Heavy hedgehogs join 'fat club'

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Krystal Aitchison, Scottish SPCA: "We weigh them daily and make sure that they have enough food for their energy levels"

A group of hedgehogs have been put on a diet as excess fat is in danger of stopping them from rolling into a ball.

The Scottish SPCA has put 10 hedgehogs in its care on calorie controlled diets to help them shed fat they put on during the recent cold snap.

They put on weight because they spent longer than usual in the care of the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife during the recent severe weather conditions.

They need to be able to roll into a ball for protection from predators.

The animals were kept in their enclosures in December and January, because the cold spell could have killed them.

The diet is a preventative measure, to get them to the right weight to be released fit and healthy into the wild
Colin Seddon
Scottish SSPCA

Hedgehogs normally need their fat reserves to survive the winter when the insects they eat are scarce.

But the animals were given a ready supply of food to keep them going through the winter and 10 of the 39 creatures started putting on weight.

Centre manager Colin Seddon admitted the hedgehogs were now "a bit on the chubby side".

"We've had quite a number of hedgehogs coming into our care this winter and if they hadn't been rescued there's a very good chance that they would not have survived the extreme cold," he said.

"It's due to this adverse weather that we haven't been able to release any hogs and instead we've kept them here, warm in their enclosures.

"The diet is a preventative measure, to get them to the right weight to be released fit and healthy into the wild."



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