This is scary and sad. I hate to see hedgehogs gaining popularity around the world as the "new cool pet".
Two six-week-old African pygmy hedgehogs show just why they are considered so cute
Meet some spiky fellows who have joined the list of Britain's most sought after pets – African pygmy hedgehogs.
The cuteness of the critters means that some people are even prepared to wait a year or drive more than 500km to pick one up.
First bred in captivity in the US about ten years ago, they are now being sold here for as much as £150 each. Brighter in colour than their counterparts in the wild, they are a cross between Algerian and white- bellied hedgehogs.
Breeder Bonnie Martin, 35, from Fairford, Gloucestershire, said: 'They are incredibly cute and can fit in the palm of your hand.
'They are just as cute as a hamster or a guinea pig but they have the added “wow” and novelty factor.
'They are a very easy pet to handle and cheaper to maintain than a cat.'
She claimed they were 'convenient' pets because they sleep during the day, when you are at work, and wake up when you return in the evening.
Mrs Martin said it was hard to keep up with demand. 'I have a waiting list that is 20-strong, which is about five litters and will take about a year to clear,' she added. 'One man in Edinburgh is waiting to pick one up.'
However, Les Stocker, founder of Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was critical of the trend.
'I think it's absolutely appalling,' Mr Stocker said. 'I don't think they make very good pets. They are nocturnal and you can't cuddle them. They never tame.
'The real worry is that people will start picking up wild hedgehogs and keeping them as pets.'
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