Prickles and a paunch: Israel's overweight hedgehogs go on diet

Sherman, the overweight hedgehog, sits on top of a scale displaying the weight of 1477 grams (3.26 lbs) at the Ramat Gan Safari Zoo, near Tel Aviv, Israel January 3, 2018. REUTERS/ Amir Cohen

Thomson Reuters

RAMAT GAN, Israel (Reuters) - Ten overweight hedgehogs have had to go on strict diets and exercise regimes after they ate so much on the streets of Israel they struggled to curl up into a ball to fend off predators.

Animal lovers found them waddling around and brought them into the hospital Ramat Gan zoo.

Staff there said the hedgehogs had probably been snacking on food left out for pets.

"A lot of people put cat food on the streets for the stray cats, which is very nice but ... the problem is that there's other wildlife that eats it," zookeeper Becka Rifkin told Reuters.

One adult male named Sherman was 1.6 kg (3.5 lb) when he arrived at the facility two months ago, almost double the average weight for a hedgehog his age.

He has since lost 120 grams after staff monitored his diet and left him to run around an enclosure. They hope they will be able to release him by the summer.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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