Mystery ‘panda’ hedgehogs leave experts struggling for answers

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These multi-coloured hedgehogs have had experts baffled.

Steve Whalley, of Preston Hedgehog Rescue, thought he’d stumbled across a rare new breed when a half-brown, half-white animal was brought to him by a concerned resident from Withnell, near Chorley.

It came at the same time as he took in a rare baby hedgehog that has a whole covering of white prickles.

Steve said: “A man came to us late at night and said he’d found two that were half brown and half white. One had been run over, but the other one was healthy.

“We looked at her for 20 minutes and couldn’t figure it out – she looked like some kind of teddy bear or panda.

“I thought that maybe it was a new phenomenon, that a native hedgehog had bred with a white African Pygmy hedgehog, especially with us having the rare white baby.

We looked at her for 20 minutes and couldn’t figure it out – she looked like some kind of teddy bear or panda.

Steve Whalley

“It was only when I got the magnifying glass out that everything became clear. The white markings are actually spray paint. It’s all over the prickles and skin, and it’s set hard like glue.

“We don’t think it’s been done maliciously, it’s most likely these two have been sheltering in an industrial unit, have been under a pallet and have been accidentally sprayed.

“We can’t get it off, so it means she can’t be released back into the wild because she’d stand out far too much. The only thing we can hope for is that when she comes out of hibernation in the winter, she’ll shed her prickles and they’ll regrow a normal colour.”

The baby white hedgehog came via a vet in Moor Lane, Preston, and is estimated at only weeks old and too small to survive winter alone.

LIGHT RELIEF: The hedgehogs at Preston Hedgehog Rescue

LIGHT RELIEF: The hedgehogs at Preston Hedgehog Rescue

Steve said: “It’s not an albino because it’s not got pink eyes, so it will go darker, but it is unusual.

“This one is also too light to survive in the wild and that might have led to the mother rejecting it.

“But with the weather we’ve had this summer, hedgehog mums have been having three litters and they might be leaving the babies because if they don’t they’ll not have enough body fat to get through winter.”

Steve is urging people to check bonfires for hedgehogs before they are set alight this November, and is also appealing for donations of dog food to help him cope with demands on his services this winter.

LIGHT RELIEF: The hedgehogs at Preston Hedgehog Rescue

LIGHT RELIEF: The hedgehogs at Preston Hedgehog Rescue

l Anyone willing to help is asked to contact Steve on 07970 187935 or preston-hedgehogrescue@outlook.com. If you find an injured hedgehog contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801.