Highlands & Islands

Meet Phelps the swimming hedgehog from Alness

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Media captionMeet Phelps, the swimming hedgehog

A young hedgehog has been receiving hydrotherapy care to help it build up strength in its hind legs.

Named Phelps, after American swimmer and the world's most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, the animal was found in Alness, Easter Ross, in November.

He was found to have back legs too weak to help him hold up his body.

Animal welfare charity the Scottish SPCA has been letting Phelps swim in shallow water at its rescue centre at Fishcross in Clackmannanshire.

Image copyright SSPCA
Image caption Nicola Turnbull, of the Scottish SPCA, and Phelps the hedgehog

The hedgehog's "swimming classes" are supervised by Nicola Turnbull, the charity's head of small mammals care.

Rescue centre manager Colin Seddon said: "Phelps arrived into our care back in November and once he uncurled we realised that he was unable to use his hind legs.

"Our vet advised physiotherapy and because hedgehogs curl up when scared, we decided to place him in a shallow bath of water.

"He was closely supervised by Nicola and was able to build up strength in his hind legs without having to bear any weight.

Image copyright SSPCA
Image caption Phelps about to take a swim in shallow water
Image copyright SSPCA
Image caption Drying off after a swim

"We continued his treatment over a seven day period and gradually Phelps regained the use of his hind legs and should be ready for release once the weather gets warmer."

Mr Seddon added: "We would be particularly concerned if a hedgehog is out during the day at this time of year and would urge anyone who finds one to call our animal helpline so we can come and collect it.

"They should try to contain it by picking it up using gardening gloves or a thick towel and placing it in a secure box. It can then be left with fresh water and tinned cat food until we arrive.

"Hedgehogs will struggle in the cold, so if anyone spots one during the freezing winter weather they should call us immediately."

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