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African pygmy hedgehog found in cage at London Underground


African pygmy hedgehog on a red blanket © RSPCA

While you often catch a glimpse of the odd mouse or pigeon enjoying life underground the busy streets of London, commuters had quite the shock when they discovered another critter waiting for a train.

Workers and customers using the London Underground were shocked to find an African pygmy hedgehog in a hamster carrier on the Edgware Road platform, in Paddington, at around 8.15pm on 11 August.

A staff member contacted us and animal collection officer (ACO) Jill Sanders rushed to the Hammersmith and City line station in west London to collect the frightened little animal.

She said:

I was relieved that the little hedgehog was still alive as it was far too cold for him. He was crammed into a tiny cage and must have been very disoriented and frightened.

It’s not clear whether he’s been abandoned or if his owner left him behind by mistake so if anyone recognises him we’d urge them to get in touch by calling our appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

The adult pygmy hedgehog - now called Paddington - is being cared for by a hedgehog carer in London.

UK climate doesn't suit their natural habitat

We're concerned that the African pygmy hedgehog is one of Britain’s latest pet crazes and we don't believe they should be kept as pets.

Like many exotic animals, they have very specific needs, which relate to where they come from in the wild.

An African pygmy hedgehog’s natural habitat is the semi-arid areas of central Africa and in captivity it would therefore require a heated enclosure.

The enclosure would need to be a carefully-controlled temperature of between 24-30°C.

Over 30°C the hedgehog is likely to suffer heat stroke, whilst temperatures lower than 18°C can induce torpor (a form of hibernation), which is not advisable in captive pygmy hedgehogs.

African pygmy hedgehogs require specialist care

Our exotics senior scientific officer Nicola White said:

African pygmy hedgehogs are solitary, nocturnal animals and will not give the companionship of many domesticated pets. If you keep two together it is likely that they will fight.

They can live for eight to 10 years so are a considerable commitment.

These hedgehogs can travel large distances in the wild and anyone keeping one in captivity would need to allow for this natural behaviour, providing as large an enclosure as possible.

Space would be needed to allow plenty of hiding places and opportunity for digging, foraging and exercise.

African pygmy hedgehogs have more specialist requirements than the more traditional domesticated pet animals, fundamentally linked to their natural environment in the wild.

It's difficult to adequately meet the animal's needs in a household environment and, where these needs can't be met, the animal really shouldn't be kept.

Contact us

Anyone with any information about who may have owned the hedgehog should call our inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018 and leave a message.

Ever thought about getting an exotic pet?

Take a look at the requirements and needs of reptiles.

Help support our work

To help us continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please donate what you can online or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3

(Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message. Text to donate terms and conditions).

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