Not very surprisingly, a hedgehog sans spines is an odd (and not very pretty) sight. Meet Pumpkin, a young hedgehog that found his way to Prickles Hedgehog Rescue in the UK recently, suffering from a skin infection that had caused his fur and all but a handful of his spines to fall out.
"When Pumpkin came to us, he was unable to walk due to the swelling in his legs and he had a large area of infected skin," says the rescue group's Jules Bishop.
Treatment with antibiotics, wound gel and an occasional lathering with aloe vera has been doing wonders for Pumpkin's condition – but it's also had one undesirable side effect: his spines dropped out as the infected skin underneath recovered. And since spines are a pretty essential part of any hedgehog's anti-predator strategy, staff want to keep Pumpkin around until his armour regrows.
The exact cause behind this case of hedgehog hairlessness remains a mystery, though several culprits, including ringworm and external parasites like mites, are known to cause spine loss among hedgehogs.
"We are unsure of the cause of his infection. We have been caring for hedgehogs for over nine years and haven't come across one with no spines or fur, though it has occurred previously at another rescue [centre]," says Bishop.
Happily, Pumpkin is taking his treatment in his stride and seems to be on the mend.
"We don't believe the condition to be life threatening and I am pleased to say Pumpkin is thriving. We are hopeful his spines and fur will grow back but think this will take a number of months."
And here's Pumpkin, still spineless but looking much perkier.
Top header image: Serge Bystro, Flickr