A tiny hedgehog is recovering at a South Yorkshire animal sanctuary after it was found with its spines deliberately cut off with scissors.
The abused animal, named Frankie by carers, was discovered by a maintenance man in student accommodation at Sheffield University, on Saturday.
He was then taken to Allan Broadhead, 77, and his wife Anita, 63, who run Cawthorne Hedgehog Rescue and Care Centre in Barnsley.
Mr Broadhead, who has been caring for hedgehogs with his wife for six years, said they have “never seen a hog in such a state of neglect and deliberate harm”.
He said: “A maintenance man was in the kitchens of the student accommodation at about 3:30am when Frankie came running over to him.
“It was clear Frankie had been abused - all its prickles had been cut off.
“It’s an act of absolute cruelty and whoever has done it needs to be brought to book.
“What was Frankie doing in a kitchen at Sheffield University? We can’t understand it.”
Upon its arrival to his sanctuary, Mr Broadhead, who is currently caring for eight other hogs, gave Frankie painkillers to calm it down and took it to a vet.
He said: “Frankie was terribly stressed when it arrived with us - it was dehydrated and really traumatised.
“Frankie was in such a bad condition we actually thought it might have been used as a football.
“Fortunately, after X-rays at the vets there were no broken bones discovered and now we’ve made him comfortable, he’s eating and drinking and he’s putting on weight.”
However, Frankie is not out of the woods yet and needs to get over the highly contagious ringworm the Broadheads believe he’s suffering from.
Mr Broadhead said: “We’ve actually never seen this kind of skin disease before, we’re treating as ringworm but it isn’t presenting as ringworm normally does.
“We’re really confused about the whole situation surrounding Frankie - we can’t work out what has happened around him.
“I was so furious when we were given him.
“Whoever has done this to him needs to be held accountable. This is cruelty and it can’t be allowed to continue.”
Ringworm is highly contagious and can be transferred to humans. There is a high chance that whoever cut the hedgehog’s spines will have contracted the disease.
Despite now being in a safe environment, Frankie still faces a long road to recovery and will need to shed the spines that have been cut so new ones can regrow, which will take about eight months.
Mr Broadhead said: “Having his spines cut off won’t have hurt him but, if he hadn’t been found it could have been been really dangerous because he had lost all of his defences.
“If his spines grow back we’ll be able to release him back into the wild, if not we’ll keep him at the sanctuary and create a little safe area for him.
“We’ll do our best to get him well but it’s going to be a long road.”