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Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed

By Jake Beleski

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A rare albino hedgehog was found on a farm in Wainuioru, and now the owners want to ensure its protection.

Harrison Deal’s Jack Russell, named Bigglesworth, was foraging around the farm on Friday and uncovered the bright white creature.

They were yet to give the little red-eyed hedgehog a name, but said they were looking after it in the hope a local wildlife sanctuary might be interested in taking it in.

“We’re hoping someone will . . . it seems like it would be quite vulnerable to predators because it’s not camouflaged at all.”

If nobody had collected the hedgehog in the next few days they would return it to its “natural habitat”.

According to the Department of Conservation, hedgehogs were first brought to New Zealand by acclimatisation societies to remind settlers of their homeland.

They were later introduced in greater numbers to control garden pests such as slugs, snails and grass grubs.

Hedgehogs have voracious appetites and pose a threat to native weta, skinks, and the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds, the DoC website states.

They are also known to eat the rare giant native centipede and a number of other rare insects.

In 2008 the Telegraph reported that only one in 100,000 hedgehogs were born with the recessive gene that meant they have no melanin pigment in their skin, eyes and spikes.

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