Hedgehog Was So Stressed, He Lost All His Spines

Derek the hedgehog was injured badly when he was just a hoglet. Now, that injury has healed - but Derek's still dealing with the trauma.

The little hedgehog lives at Herts Hogline, a U.K. rescue center that cares for sick, orphaned or injured hedgehogs until they're ready to re-enter the wild.

Herts Hogline founder Lynne Garner picked up Derek when he was just a few weeks old. He'd been rescued by a local vet and was in bad shape.

"He [weighed] less than 100 grams, and they [hedgehogs] have to be 600 grams to survive the winter," Garner told The Dodo. Derek also had a large, infected wound - possibly from a bird attack - which Garner cleaned and treated carefully over the next few weeks.

The wound made Derek very anxious - so anxious, in fact, that he now suffers from stress-induced alopecia, or spine loss. The condition has caused him to lose nearly all of his spines - a phenomenon Garner said she hadn't seen at Herts Hogline in 25 years.

Luckily, things are looking up for Derek. This week, he'll relocate to another home, where he'll have a lot more room to move around and exercise. Garner is hoping this will reduce his stress levels and, hopefully, bring back his spines.

"I'm sure she [the new caretaker] will be able to achieve what I haven't - a hog with spines!" Garner wrote in a Facebook post. Once Derek regains his spines, he'll be able to protect himself in the wild.

If you spot a hedgehog in distress, Herts Hogline strongly recommends taking the animal directly to a veterinarian - using gloves to handle him, of course!

To support Herts Hogline, visit its Facebook page. If you'd like to make a donation, Garner requests that you send the page a message asking for its current wish list.