Bald hedgehog brothers find a new home in Whitby

The two bald hedgehogs being cared for at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture by Ceri Oakes.
The two bald hedgehogs being cared for at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture by Ceri Oakes.

Two adorable bald hedgehog brothers were both found on a street within days of each other.

The spineless hedgehogs, named Charlie Brown and Snoopy, were discovered just days apart after calls from two residents on the same street...and were lucky to fall into the care of Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary, a local charity which cares for thousands of animals.

The two bald hedgehogs being cared for at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture by Ceri Oakes.

The two bald hedgehogs being cared for at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture by Ceri Oakes.

The Sanctuary took the pair into their protection last summer and what they lack in prickles they make up for in personality.

Alex Farmer, of the sanctuary, said: “They’ve got lovely characters, they’re doing quite well here. We’re all quite pleased with how they’re getting on.”

Hedgehogs normally have around 500 spines covering their bodies for protection and to keep them warm.

But a genetic disorder is believed to have been cause by a zinc deficiency resulted in the brothers to be born bald.

The two bald hedgehogs being cared for at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture by Ceri Oakes.

The two bald hedgehogs being cared for at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture by Ceri Oakes.

Alex added: “There’s not a lot of research but we believe it to be a genetic problem.

“One hedgehog was a surprise but when we had a call about a second in the same area without spines we thought they must be related.”

The Sanctuary searched the area in an attempt to find any other siblings but did not locate any more.

Another explanation could be alopecia caused by a stressful incident which resulted in them losing their spines and hair on their face, legs and stomach.

A cheque is presented to the Sanctuary for money raised in the Krampus Run. Picture: Ceri Oakes

A cheque is presented to the Sanctuary for money raised in the Krampus Run. Picture: Ceri Oakes

The Sanctuary has tried feeding them zinc supplements hoping their spines will grow back, but this has had limited success, meaning the pair will likely have to be cared for at the centre for the rest of their lives.

“The few spines that do grow back are very weak and deformed. They should be sharp and solid and as soon as we stop feeding them the zinc supplement they fall out again,” added Alex.

“It means we can’t release the hedgehogs into the wild so they’ll be here to stay.”

During the winter they’re being kept indoors but when spring arrives they will they will be outdoors in a safe environment which will be closely monitored.

While their genetic problem might make them an easy target for predators such as cats and owls, it does mean they can enjoy a warm hug from volunteers at the Sanctuary, which has now been running for several years. Alex started taking in wild animals at her home in Whitby several years ago, such as gulls, rabbits, hedgehogs, and it escalated into her having to leave her job as a school teacher and become an official charity, working full time and taking on volunteers.

The charity works to rehabilitate any animal in need, with the hope of releasing them back into the wild after they make a full recovery.

But this isn’t always possible. Another example of a resident critter in their care is Arya, a resident three-legged fox who has a permament home in Whitby.

If released into the wild she would struggle to fend for herself and would likely die.

Caring for thousands of animals every year isn’t cheap.

The charity has announced that it will be opening a shop on Haggersgate, next to Pier Road, selling products to help wildlife in a bid to help raise funds, but also awareness of how to care for animals.

The building is currently being decorated, with a green paint on the exterior.

Volunteers are also being sought to help with the day-to-day running of the new shop, contact the Sanctuary on Facebook if you are interested: @whitbywildlifesanctuary.

As it will be run by volunteers, 100% of the profits made in the store will go towards helping the animals in their care.

Alex rose to fame in 2016 when she was honoured with the ‘Animal Action Award’ award at an event organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. It was presented by TV birdwatcher Bill Oddie.

The Sanctuary has been involved in a number of significant rescues in the last year, including rescuing gulls which had been attacked by humans.

In the summer, Alex told the Gazette how they were dealing with an increasing number of cases where gulls had been kicked by people.

There was even one instance where a bird was found dead in the street after reportedly being attacked by a group of people.

They have also helped with seal pups washed up on beaches along the Yorkshire Coast.

Artemis, the young pup featured on page two of this week’s paper was found near Whitby and rescued by the Sanctuary, before being cared for and later released by the Sea Life Centre in Scarborough.

Rescues from this week alone include an underweight tawny owl, an eight-year-old cat in need of a new home, two field mice excavated by a digger, injured gulls and a pigeon with a damaged eye.

Funds collected from Whitby Krampus Run were also handed over to the Sanctuary this week. A cheque totalling £1,307.09 was presented to Alex.

It was raised by the costumed street parade, which exceeded all expectations, with proceeds from the licensed street collection alone raising around £500. This year’s event and fundraiser will be on Saturday December 1 and is already being planned by organisers Laurence Mitchell and Elaine Edmunds.

More performers and attractions will also be featured.