AN ANIMAL has been left in a ‘complete state of collapse’ after being kicked around like a football by youths.
Brian the hedgehog was taken to Bert’s Hedgehog Retreat, in Milton, after a group of young boys were spotted harming the animal on Saturday afternoon.
The couple who rescued Brian told the retreat four youths on bikes were kicking him around at the Great Salterns Recreation Ground in Portsmouth.
Brian’s carers and the RSPCA are urging anyone who saw what happened to contact them.
Linda Hewitt, who runs Bert’s Hedgehog Retreat, said the nocturnal animal may be blind and was severely dehydrated and mistreated.
She said: ‘Brian shouldn’t have been out in the day, it was very hot on Saturday, but instead of helping him the youths kicked him around like a football.
‘Their cruelty left the poor boy in a complete state of collapse, what on earth do their parents teach them?
‘I’m ashamed and deeply saddened that in my home town mindless young people think it’s fun to be so brutally unkind.
‘How will we ever stop this iconic British animal becoming extinct if people have so little regard for their precious lives?’
Linda said the couple were upset by the incident and cared for Brian until Monday, when they took him to her.
He went in thin, wobbly, dehydrated, and is ‘circling around’ – which is why his carers think he may be blind.
Linda, 52, added: ‘We put him in an incubator to warm him up, because when he came to us he was freezing, and we’ve given him rehydration fluids, medication, and fed him.
‘He’s still very distressed and I don’t know if he has sight problems because of the mistreatment or whether he did beforehand.
‘I’ll be taking him to the vet and he will be rehabilitated somewhere safe.’
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) said it is well-known the population of hedgehogs in Britain is suffering from a serious decline.
Together with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, the society found urban populations have fallen by up to 30 per cent and rural populations by at least 50 per cent since the turn of the century.
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: ‘It is very distressing to think that anyone could treat a defenceless animal in such a cruel and heartless way.
‘We urge those who may have witnessed this incident to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.’
The BHPS said hedgehogs shouldn’t ‘sunbathe’ and if one is seen doing this it is in urgent need of help.