The Flash and Thelma Memorial Hedgehog Rescue



Hello!  My name is Rose Akwekon (Rosie is my nickname) and I lived at The Flash and Thelma Memorial Hedgehog Rescue for nearly three years (February 25, 1998 until October 16, 2000). I was born in November of 1995,and so I was almost five years of age (about the same as a 76 year old human) when I traveled over the Bridge.  I had a pretty hard life before coming here, since I was blinded in one eye and for a while I was a middle school "mascot" where some human boys used to bat me around the classroom like a golf ball during recess when the teacher was gone.  She finally found out what they were doing and caught them.  Then she brought me to my present home, where I led a pretty relaxed and happy life.  Let me tell you something about our home.

    The Flash and Thelma Memorial Hedgehog Rescue was originally called The Flash Memorial Hedgehog Rescue named after the original resident, Flash, whom I never got to know on this earthly plane because she traveled on just shortly before I arrived here.  When I came here I was terrified because of all of the beatings I used to get at that middle school, so I stayed rolled up in a ball most of the time.
When I got here there were two hedgehogs already here, old Thelma (even older than me - she was born in 1993 in our homeland of Nigeria!) and little Louise, a very wild but happy hedgehog.  Thelma became my friend and snuggled with me all of the time and before long, I started to calm down.  Then Little Flash came here and she was sweet to me also, and she and Thelma became best friends.  After a while I came to know that even the humans here were not going to hurt me so I became more relaxed.  My dear friend Thelma traveled on from being very old on July 12, 1998, but I did not know why she went away so I went looking for her every day for a few months.  The rescue was renamed The Flash and Thelma Memorial Hedgehog Rescue on July 12, 1998 because Thelma was so special as a caring and kind hedgehog.  Below is a picture of her kindly looking after us from her side of the Rainbow Bridge. 


The rescue was formally organized in the next month, becoming a charitable nonprofit subsidiary of W.O.L.F. (Wolves Offered Life and Friendship)(  The hedgehog part of the rescue, was originally headquartered in Northern Colorado, decentralized in three locations and was home to over 20 permanent hedgehog residents and a varying number of temporary hedgehogs that are rescued from various conditions and sources and then found acceptable homes.  Potential adopters were screened and follow-up monitoring and veterinary care was provided.  Today, the Rescue has been located in Divide, Colorado since June, 2001, and is home, normally to between 50 and 60 resident hedgehogs.  The Hedgiehouse, originally built and used at the Fort Collins Rescue, we had a housemover truck it all the way here to Divide, some 150 miles and set it up as you see below:


    Hedgehogs are fairly new to the U.S.A. as pets and, almost exclusively, the hedgehogs that were imported as pets are known as the African Pigmy Hedgehog, a slang term that is not technically correct.  You see, we are not pygmies at all - that was a label put on us by the north American pet trade to indicate that we were just a little smaller than our European relatives.  Really, we are mostly the Central African Hedgehog or White Tummied Hedgehog (Atelerix Albiventris) or the Algerian Hedgehog (Atelerix Algirus).  We are small (weighing only about one pound) and, as are many other "exotic" animals, misunderstood.  Accordingly, we are often unintentionally mistreated, fed an inappropriate diet, and neglected.  Furthermore, little is known about our proper medical care and the pet care literature for hedgehogs is inadequate and often incorrect. There is substantial evidence to indicate that even though the estimated lifespan of an African hedgehog should be four to six years in captivity, most of us kept as pets die under two years of age.

    The Rescue locates hedgehogs for rescue and occasionally foster care by local word-of-mouth, screening classified advertisements in Colorado newspapers, from local and not-so-local breeders, from the Denver pet wholesaler (Western Aquatics), and nationally through the Internet (mainly hedgehog email list servers).  Furthermore, in addition to providing rescue, care, rehabilitation, and foster care services locally, the Rescue offers services internationally in the following ways:

a.  Rescue of hedgehogs from neglectful, abusive, and/or impossibility (a person can no longer care for an animal) situations in the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico through information provided on the hedgehog email list servers or by individual contact.  We also work closely with humane societies and animal control agencies in states where hedgehogs are illegal so we can evacuate them and give them a good home.

b.  We conducted an at-cost scale program to provide hedgehog owners and caretakers with accurate digital weight scales at wholesale cost plus actual shipping costs from 1998 through 2003 and sold some 300 Terraillon digital scales.  The program was discontinued when affordably priced digital scales finally became available at the large chain stores.

 c.  Provision of veterinary care, including emergency care, for hedgehogs in cases where the human caretaker cannot afford the care.  Disbursement is made directly to the servicing veterinarian.

d.  Provision of veterinary consultative services to other veterinarians in North America and Europe by a hedgehog specialist who is a zoological and wildlife veterinarian now in private practice and formerly on the faculty of Clinical Services, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University.

e.  Funding of post-mortem examinations or portions of post-mortem examinations (such as histopathological examinations) where the performance of the examination may contribute to the medical literature in the furtherance of the health of hedgehogs.  A specific post-mortem examination funding program, called The Munchkin Memorial Fund, is sponsored by The Flash and Thelma Memorial Rescue to assist researchers at Yale University in the investigation of wobbly hedgehog syndrome (WHS) a fatal hedgehog disease that many think is similar to multiple sclerosis in humans.  As donated funds have declined, we have recently been offering an at-cost veterinary pathology service.

f.  Work is under way, in a cooperative effort with other interested individuals, to establish a Registry of Hedgehog Pathology so as to index hedgehog medical problems in a searchable database for veterinarians and other animal health care professionals.

   Donations to the Rescue may be made as either unrestricted or restricted to a particular program (resident hedgehog care, adoption efforts, educational programs, Internet veterinary care program, scale program, national rescue program, Registry of Hedgehog Pathology and postmortem examination program (Munchkin Memorial Fund) or for the rescue and care of a particular hedgehog (sponsorship).

    We categorize hedgehogs entering the Rescue into one of several categories.  Permanent residents are at the rescue for several reasons:

a.  Unmanageable to the typical pet owner (usually too skittish/aggressive, too boisterous, repeated escapes).

b.  Unwanted by the present caretaker.  Typically in these cases this involves a child that has grown weary of the pet and now has "other interests."

c.  Disabled (blind, partially blind, disease prone, seriously ill, paralyzed, missing limbs).

d.  Too old for other placement at time of arrival at the rescue.

e.  A therapeutic hedgehog of a very calm and sociable demeanor used to calm down other, more aggressive/skittish/traumatized hedgehogs.

f.  An educational hedgehog that is used in educational programs outside of the Rescue in such venues as schools (from kindergarten to veterinary medical colleges), public events, and particular interest groups such as hedgehog shows, clubs, etc.

    The rescue is named for the original two therapeutic hedgehogs, Flash, who died in February, 1998 and Thelma, who died in July, 1998.  Flash and Thelma were registered hedgehogs of the International Hedgehog Registry, registration numbers 928 and 929, respectively.  Thelma was legendary for her ability to calm aggressive and/or skittish hedgehogs and died of old age (kidney failure) at five and one half years.  Thelma was the only hedgehog to enter the Rescue that was born in our native Africa, most probably Niger since she was an Algerian hedgehog.  She arrived in New York City in 1993 and was taken home from a pet store in Maryland.  Her caretaker, who had cared for her from 1993 until 1996, placed her in our care when she (caretaker) was moving overseas upon graduating from college.

    The Flash and Thelma Memorial Hedgehog Rescue is a no kill rescue and does not engage in euthanasia unless an animal is enduring excruciating and unremitting pain.  All animals at the rescue, temporary or permanent, receive whatever veterinary care is required, regardless of cost, including all required tests for possible illnesses, all recommended surgery, all recommended histopathology, and all recommended medications.

Hedgehogs arriving at our Rescue come here to a permanent home.  We do arrange for foster care placements to approved homes when a hedgehog comes our way but is not formally admitted to the Rescue.  Foster care placements are citizens of the Rescue but are placed in  approved homes, usually permanently, where the caretakers are well known to us as experienced hedgehog caregivers and are members of the International Hedgehog Associaiton and the Colorado Hedgehog Society.


Our telephone numbers are (719) 687-8087 and toll free at (800) 735-3160

Electronic mail is

    Our little web site is constantly under development and revision, so stop by often.

    Love, Rosie The Hedgehog (Algerian Chocolate Female), International Hedgehog Registry Number 931.



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