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Russian cat adopts orphaned baby hedgehogs

A picture showing the female cat Muska feeding the tiny hedgehogs, from the Sadgorod Zoo's Instagram feed Image copyright Instagram/zoopark_vl
Image caption Muska seems unfazed by the spiky babies - but has been known to hiss when they prick her

Eight orphaned hedgehogs have survived against the odds at a zoo in the Russian city of Vladivostok, after a kindly cat became their surrogate mum.

Muska the cat adopted the spiky brood after their mother died in a lawn-mowing accident.

The tiny hoglets, as they are known, had refused milk from a syringe, a bottle, and a saucer for two days, according to Sadgorod Zoo.

At night, the babies had a heating pad to stimulate their digestion.

Still, nothing helped.

As Muska had recently raised a litter of foster kittens, she had milk to offer - so the zoo decided to try the unusual pairing.

The hungry orphans reacted to her bodily warmth and the smell of milk, and soon began to nurse.

The good-natured cat proceeded to feed the hedgehogs for more than a week and comfort them at night, Russia's Vesti reports.

The fragile youngsters are now eating on their own, although their feline guardian is still keeping an eye on proceedings.

A picture on the zoo's Instagram feed shows one of them happily snoozing in his food bowl.

Image copyright Instagram/zoopark_vl
Image caption Eating and sleeping are among the youngsters' favourite activities

Sadgorod Zoo's media director Alyona Asnovina said there had been an "invasion" of hedgehogs in eastern Russian this year.

It's not the first time a cat has nursed orphaned hedgehogs in the country. In 2012, a cat named Sonya took in four babies and fed them alongside her own kitten.

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