Meet Betty the bald hedgehog from Gorleston

Think of a hedgehog and its prickles are probably the first thing to spring to mind - but this poor little thing is completely naked.

Six-week-old Betty the hedgehog was picked up underweight and out in the open during the day – a bad sign.

Taken to Foxy Lodge wildlife sanctuary, in Hemsby, she has grown from strength to strength.

Strangely enough Betty is not the first spike-free hedgehog they have taken in. Two years ago they found Baldrick just a few streets away from where Betty was found, and he became a national celebrity.

'It seemed just impossible,' said John Garner, 52, who runs Foxy Lodge rescue centre with his wife Tonia, 'and when my wife looked into the box for the first time she said 'Oh my God we've got another Baldrick'.'

'She looks the same as Baldrick – she has the same face – and also does something similar when you handle her where she curls up in a ball and jumps up while making a huffing noise,' said Mr Garner, who works as a train signaller when not caring for animals.

He added that outside Gorleston he had only heard of one other case in the whole of Britain.

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'It's too much of a coincidence to get another one, so we think there might be a female or male carrying a genetic disorder. They could even be brother or sister from different litters.'

Unlike the other hedgehogs, who the couple handle wearing latex gloves, Betty is picked up using a soft blanket. Extra care is also taken with cage mates, with more aggressive hedgehogs avoided.

Now weighing 650g and with a healthy appetite for cat food and chicken chunks, she is looking healthy and happy, and enjoys days out in the sun when it is hot enough.

Mr Garner said: 'She's a lovely little thing and she doesn't suffer from the same irritable spots that Bernard did, but we can't release her – she is like an animal without fur and just wouldn't be able to keep warm enough to survive hibernation.'

As it is, when the frosts come she will have the warmth of the Garners' specially converted bedroom, which now houses all kinds of creatures.

And she might even find herself with similar company sometime soon.

'If we're right, then there could just be another one born this year that's wandering around the area,' Mr Garner added.

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