An African pygmy hedgehog was rescued from a platform on Edgware Road station, in Paddington, earlier this month.
The hedgehog was discovered at the Hammersmith & City line station, and the RSPCA was contacted.
“I was relieved that the little hedgehog was still alive, as it was far too cold for him,” says animal collection officer Jill Sanders.
“He was crammed into a tiny cage and must have been very disorientated and frightened.”
It was not clear whether the prickly mammal had been abandoned or if his owner left him behind by mistake.
The hedgehog has been named Paddington.
African pygmy hedgehogs are native to semi-arid habitats in central Africa, and require carefully controlled temperatures of 24 – 30 degrees Celsius when kept in captivity.
This hedgehog species is a solitary and nocturnal animal, which travels large distances when in the wild.
If kept in captivity, they have specialist requirements that are difficult to meet, including a large enclosure, opportunities for digging, foraging and exercise, and plenty of hiding spaces.
Hedgehog ecologist, Hugh Warwick, is concerned by the recent trend in Britain for keeping African pygmy hedgehogs as pets.
“Hedgehog rescue is normally for our native species, but one of the inevitable side-effects of the trade in pet hedgehogs is that these nocturnal animals will end up being discarded when the enthusiasm wears off,” he says.
“I am also deeply worried that should a pet hedgehog craze erupt there will be an increase the incidence of our wild hedgehogs being put up for sale.”
Main image: The rescued African pygmy hedgehog was rescued from Edgware Road station. © RSPCA