Bald hedgehog faces pointless existence in Yarmouth
A hedgehog is facing a life in captivity due to a mystery condition that has left it without spines.
Six-week-old Betty was handed into Foxy Lodge Wildlife Rescue in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in August last year.
Ten months on it is feared she may never go back into the wild because the spines that grew fell out, making her prone to predators.
"The only way it can protect itself is with its spikes," said John Garner from the wildlife centre.
"She's currently got one or two little spikes but they get to a couple of millimetres long and then they just fall out.
Excluded by others
"Even if she made it until the winter when it's hibernation time she just wouldn't survive because the spikes are a type of hollow hair which gives them warmth as well."
It is believed the problem is a genetic disorder.
Betty's lack of spines means she cannot spend too long in the sun and she has also become frightened of other hedgehogs after many in the centre excluded her.
It is hoped Betty will eventually grow her spines back, but if she does not the shelter said it would continue to home her.
"Unfortunately, unless she gets her spikes she will live her days out with us. It's a shame but she is well treated here," said Mr Garner.
It is not the first time a bald hedgehog has turned up to the centre, prompting fears there could be a family with the condition in the town.
In 2009 a hedgehog with a similar condition was taken to Foxy Lodge but died soon after.