Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 11:15 UK

Diet success hedgehogs released into the wild

A hedgehog
The hedgehogs had been unable to roll into a ball because they were too fat

Fourteen hedgehogs that became too fat to protect themselves from predators are being returned to the wild.

The animals were put on a strict diet in February after over-indulging on cat food at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife during the recent cold snap.

The creatures, which usually live off their fat reserves in the winter, had become so big they were unable to curl into a ball to hide from predators.

They are being released into a large garden at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

Centre manager Colin Sneddon told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that the animals did not need to rely on their fat reserves while at the centre.

If you put two together, you'll get one that will eat all the food and go and sleep and the other one will be running round trying to find some food and lose all it's weight
Colin Sneddon

"They need fat for hibernation but when they get too much fat then they're not able to roll into a little tight ball which makes them very vulnerable to predators like badgers and foxes," he said.

"The problem was that they had to be kept in for an extended period because of the cold weather and if we keep them indoors they stay relatively warm and they don't hibernate so all they do is just eat.

"They're just like people, we all put on weight at different speeds and we all exercise at different amounts and hedgehogs are the same.

"If you put two together, you'll get one that will eat all the food and go and sleep and the other one will be running round trying to find some food and lose all its weight, so we've got monitor them very carefully."

The 14 hedgehogs were among 70 that were rescued by animal welfare officers from the effects of this year's harsh winter.



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