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Two rare albino hedgehogs rescued

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Carole Catchpole with two rare albino hedgehogs called Tughall and Albie at her rescue centre in Longframlington in Northumberland

Carole Catchpole with two rare albino hedgehogs called Tughall and Albie at her rescue centre in Longframlington in Northumberland

Carole Catchpole with two rare albino hedgehogs called Tughall and Albie at her rescue centre in Longframlington in Northumberland

The founder of a hedgehog rescue centre has said she was amazed to have two rare albinos in her care after waiting years to see one.

In less than a month, two of the unusual hedgehogs were dropped off at Carole Catchpole's home in Longframlington, Northumberland.

She set up the Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust in 1998 and has cared for up to 400 of them every year without seeing a single albino.

Now she has two under her care and is thinking carefully about how best to plan for their future.

Mrs Catchpole said: "It is amazing to get two in such a short space of time."

First came Tughall, named after the part of Bamburgh, Northumberland, where he was found in late August.

At first the finder thought he was a pygmy hedgehog, but Mrs Catchpole swiftly identified he was an albino.

"He is the first we have had since we started in 1998," she said.

Then a caller from Howick, Northumberland, found a distressed white hedgehog in the garden.

"They had called it Albie," Mrs Catchpole said. "He is roughly the same weight as Tughall so we are just building them up until they are a suitable release weight."

Albie and Tughall are probably not related, Mrs Catchpole believes, as they were found around 13 miles apart - a considerable distance for hedgehogs.

The hedgehog-lover is taking advice on whether the albinos can survive happily in the wild, or if their unusual colouring makes them less able to thrive. If that is the case, they will be released in a large, safe, enclosed area.

If they are deemed able to survive in the wild, she will release them far into the countryside.

"They need to be somewhere we know they are going to be safe and no member of the public will find them," she said. "We have to be very careful we do the right thing."

PA Media