You are here:

From loved to litter – but Hedgy’s safe now

Unusual and exotic pets are on the increase, and so are the numbers of them being abandoned...

Cold and alone, tiny African pygmy hedgehog Hedgy was dumped like rubbish and left to suffer before being brought into our care.

Hedgy's back was crusty and was missing spines when she first arrived in Blue Cross care

Found by a passerby in a wet cardboard box near the rubbish chute of a block of flats in Southwark, south London, the once-loved pet awaited her fate.

She had lost most of her spines and was covered in mites.

Blue Cross Vet Nurse Shakira Miles, said: “We were really shocked by the state Hedgy was in.

“Her skin condition had been neglected for so long that it had caused almost all her spines to fall out and she is so overweight that she can’t even curl into a ball properly.

"She certainly wouldn’t have survived for much longer if she hadn’t been found.”

On the trash heap

Hedgy also had ingrowing claws and her ears were blocked with sores and scabs, also covering her eyes, due to an infestation of mites

Poor Hedgy's claws were ingrown and sore

Our vets clipped Hedgy’s claws, washed her eyes with warm water, cleaned the scabs and pus from her ear canals and our nurses are giving her regular skin treatment baths.

Hopefully within the next three to four weeks, Hedgy’s spines will start to grow back and she will eventually be ready to find a new home with an expert hedgehog owner.

In vogue

We fear that as unusual and exotic pets become more popular, these species will end up suffering or being abandoned because owners don’t have the expert knowledge to care for them properly.

Becky Thwaites, Public Affairs Officer, said: “These trends in ‘novelty pets’ are very worrying. Animals like African hedgehogs look really cute and are easy to buy online but the novelty can soon wear off when people realise they are not easy to care for and can live for up to eight years.”

Easy to get, easy to get rid

African pygmy hedgehogs are readily available online for around £100 to £150 and reports suggest there are as many 100,000 African hedgehogs being kept as pets in the UK.

They are just one of a number of ‘novelty’ or exotic pets that have been growing in popularity in recent years.

Hedgy is looking much better after initial treatment

Becky added: “Blue Cross would never suggest getting an exotic pet as their welfare needs can be hard to meet in a home environment.

“And of course, when you’re thinking of getting any pet, it’s really important to do lots of research first to make sure you can give them the kind of care they need.”

We’re campaigning to raise awareness of the growing concerns surrounding the welfare of exotic pets to stop them being mistreated and abandoned, like Hedgy was, and we want to see the government commit to a review of the issues surrounding their breeding, sale and keeping.

For more information on choosing the right pet for you, visit our pet advice pages.

— Page last updated 3/11/2015