A pair of best friends could end up in a sticky situation if their rough-and-tumble goes too far – because a sausage dog is pals with a baby porcupine.
Porcupette Diablo made friends with little puppy Fig under the watchful eye of surrogate mum Estelle Morgan, who is hand-rearing the spiny little critter because he got rejected by his mum.
Zookeeper Estelle took the tiny porcupette home to give him the best chance of survival when his mum Hannah rejected him at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire.
When Diablo was just a few days old, Estelle introduced him to her puppy Fig for some company and essential social interactions to help his development, and the pair soon became best friends.
The prickly pair now spend all day playing together, but will only have a few more days before Diablo has to leave – and go back to the zoo.
Estelle said: “It’s safe to say they have become best friends.
“When Diablo gets excited he will do a buckaroo-style run, where he thrashes his head around and jumps up in the air.
“Under close supervision, they will run around the garden together and Fig has been very gentle and patient with Diablo.”
Diablo was born to parents Hannah and Prickle at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford.
But the decision was made to hand-rear the baby porcupine when his mother rejected him.
She said: “Hannah previously had twins in February that she is still caring for, so it is likely she wasn’t really ready for another baby so soon.
“His unexpected arrival was a big surprise for all of us.”
Little Diablo was very feisty from birth but is now showing his softer side and building his social skills with best buddy Fig.
He is currently being bottle-fed by Estelle in her kitchen at her home which is located within the wildlife park.
Estelle said: “When Diablo was first born he was very feisty and wasn’t scared to give me a nip.
“However now he has settled into a good routine and will comfortably follow me around the kitchen and will even come to me for reassurance.”
When Estelle began hand-rearing Diablo, he weighed just 300g and has grown to a whopping 1.8kg.
For the first month, he was fed one bottle every two hours to get him into a good routine.
But at six weeks old, he is now tasting solid foods and has developed a liking for apples and sweet potatoes.
Estelle said: “My most stand out moment hand-rearing Diablo was when he latched on and suckled on his own from the bottle for the first time.
“This happened when he was three days old and was just a huge relief for me – the first few days are always worrying.
“Now, at six weeks old, he is tasting solid foods – sweet potatoes and apples are his favourites – so he can go longer in-between feeds which also means I’ve been able to get more sleep.”