Staff at an animal rescue centre were bristling with excitement today after rescuing this rare blonde ‘albino’ hedgehog from the brink of death.
‘Snuffles’ was found collapsed in an alleyway by student Laura Wallbridge, 24, after he was left too weak to move by severe hypothermia.
She took the hedgehog back to her flat before handing him over to animal experts from Shepreth Wildlife Park in Royston, Herts.
Staff at the centre have now nursed Snuffles back to full health but he cannot be released into the wild because his pale spikes make him an easy target for predators.
Laura, who is a PHD student at Cambridge University, spotted Snuffles in an alleyway near her home in Cambridge on August 18 and described him as ”super cute”.
She said: ”I came across him lying in the alleyway behind my house in the middle of the day which I thought was odd because they are nocturnal.
”When I touched him he wobbled and fell over so I took him inside and put him on a hot water bottle for a few hours to warm up.
”We expected him to die, but decided to put him in a box overnight and feed him up.
”Instead he escaped and explored our flat, which is when we thought it best to pass him over to the experts.
”When I took him to the rescue centre they said he was hypothermic and had been trying to crawl into the sun to warm up.
”I didn’t realise at first how rare he was. Any hedgehog is cute but the fact that he is blond makes him super cute.”
Snuffles’ unique colour is caused by a rare recessive gene – although he is not strictly an albino due to his piercing black eyes.
The pale colouring is caused by a leucism – a condition where the pigmentation cells fail to develop casing white patches or completely white creatures.
However, in the wild, his pale spikes mean that he struggles to camouflage himself and make him an easy target for predators.
Katherine Lyon, head keeper at Shepreth Wildlife Park, revealed that she has only seen two ‘albino’ hedgehogs in 25 years.
She said: ”He is doing very well, and is extremely lively, but unfortunately due to their unusual colouring, blonde hedgehogs have a reduced chance of survival in the wild, often proving attractive to predators such as foxes and badgers.”