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Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009
Fat albino hedgehog put on diet

Snowball is being put through a rigorous weight loss plan

An albino hedgehog being cared for at a wildlife hospital has been put on a strict diet and exercise regime because he is dangerously overweight.

Snowball, as he has been named by staff at St Tiggywinkles in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, needs to lose two pounds (0.91kg).

He currently weighs three pounds (about 1.5kg) which is three times what a healthy hedgehog should weigh.

He was found by a member of the public in Thatcham, Berkshire, in October.

Staff are putting him through a rigorous regime of swimming in a bath of shallow water, as well as running.

He has been eating a lot of dog food
Les Stocker, St Tiggywinkles

He has also been put on a crash diet of low-fat kitten biscuits.

Les Stocker, founder of the hospital, said it had been a slow process trying to get Snowball to slim down.

"He has been eating a lot of dog food.

"I think what people do is they put out food for two or three hedgehogs coming in their garden, and I think Snowball got there first and ate everybody else's dog food.

"So he just got fatter and fatter."

Snowball has so far shed about 1.3 ounces (38 grams).

"He's being swum every day, he goes in our physio unit and has a swim around," said Clare Campbell, who works at the hospital.

Only one in 1,000 hedgehogs are born albino and it makes them more vulnerable in the wild.

Snowball will be released into a protected area for other albinos of his breed when his training finishes next summer.

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