Overweight Hedgehogs: Must Lose Weight or Face Predators

fat hedgehog on a diet photo

Photo: Sids1 via Flickr

In case people aren't well-versed in a hedgehog's survival tactics, a crucial skill involves rolling into a ball in order to fend off predators with those thorny spines. So it was a big problem when a group of hedgehogs in Scotland had become so overweight from a long winter indoors that they could no longer roll into a ball. From STV News:

The Scottish SPCA was forced to put the ten chubby creatures on a strict calorie controlled diet, after they gained weight as a result of spending a long cold winter in their enclosures.... However, following a winter of weight watching, the hedgehogs were able leave the charity's centre in Fife and set out on their own on Wednesday.

The winter spelled trouble because since they were inside, the hedgehogs didn't need to rely on their fat stores to keep warm, the way they do when hibernating outdoors in the cold.

So when their excessive weight gain was noticed to be a problem, the hedgehogs were put on a calorie-controlled diet. Colin Seddon, manager of the SPCA Wildlife Rescue Centre, said upon their release back into the wild this week: "They have lost a bit of weight as a result of us rationing their daily cat food, but we've left them with some fat reserves because it looks as though we aren't out of the cold snap just yet."

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