“Sometimes challenges find us, even at home. This man screamed when he saw this ball in his kitchen. You won’t believe what it turned out to be.
Frank came home from a long day at work. As he went over to the fridge to grab the ingredients to make a sandwich, his eye caught something lying on the floor. For a moment, he thought his bread had fallen, but the round thing was much smaller than the bread.
There was a ball in his kitchen. Where could it have come from? He had no children, and the closest thing he had to kids was the University across the road from his house. But even if those young ones were kids in his eyes, they didn’t generally throw a ball around in their free time.
Where this ball had come from was a mystery. There was something off about the tiny round ball. It was almost like it had things stuck to it. Frank didn’t know why, but for some reason, this little round object was giving him the creeps. He had to force himself to get a closer look. He crouched down next to the little ball and reached out his hand to pick it up.
As he was about to touch it, the little ball uncurled, and with feet suddenly sticking out underneath it, it ran off away from the man. That made Frank jump and scream in fright. He had to laugh at himself – a grown man screaming about a tiny creature moving. He now knew this wasn’t a ball or even a rock. It had to be an animal of some kind.
The tiny creature raced underneath his cupboards and stayed there. Frank’s interest peaked. He didn’t have pets or animals around him, but he did believe in caring for all creatures, great and small. He might not know what type of animal it was, but he did know he had to try and help it, even if that meant placing it outside where it could be free.
He got down on the floor and checked under the cupboards. There was the tiny creature again, curled up into a ball and not moving. He had never seen anything like it. Frank got closer, and knowing that this was a living creature, he was more careful. He had a flashlight but didn’t shine it directly on the scared little animal.
It gave enough light to see that the creature’s skin was almost like a human’s, but there were a few spots that were hard pieces of something, almost like sticks, that were stuck inside his skin. It touched Frank’s heart. The animal must have been in pain. He had friends who worked with animals and even had their own sanctuary where they rehabilitated wild animals. If anyone would know what type of animal this was, it would be Alan or his wife Anita. They would know what to do to help.
Even curled up, the tiny body was shaking from fear and pain. Frank was scared to hurt him, so he put on his softest winter gloves. He thought that touching the animal’s skin could hurt him, and he wanted to make sure it was as painless as possible. He got a box ready with a soft blanket, and then it was time to catch the animal. Only, he didn’t seem to want to be caught. For a while, he kept running away from Frank. The man was worried he was making the little creature’s condition worse, and he wondered if he shouldn’t give up and let him be for the night.
Then it ran into a corner, and it had nowhere to go. Frank caught up with him and gently picked him up. He had seen that the creature had sharp little teeth, which was another reason for the gloves. But it didn’t try to bite him or snap at him at all. It allowed Frank to carry it to the box and place it inside, and then it curled up and wouldn’t move.
Frank wasn’t going to wait. He drove to the sanctuary right away. He gave one last longing look to the bread on the table, and then he closed the door and took the animal to the next part of his journey. He called ahead, so Allan and Anita would know he was coming. But nothing could prepare them for what they saw. They had seen a lot of horrible things, but this tiny creature drove them to tears the moment they saw him. They knew what it was right away, only they had never seen one in this condition.
Frank told them how he had seen this ball in his kitchen and screamed when it had suddenly moved. Then they could tell him what he had found. You won’t believe what this tiny animal turned out to be. It was a hedgehog, but this hedgehog was in the worst condition they’d ever seen. Frank had seen hedgehogs before, but this one didn’t even resemble the animal.
The hard pieces on his skin were his quills. They should be covering his entire body, but there were a lot of spots where he had none. They couldn’t figure out if the missing quills had been forcibly removed from his body. It was a terrible thing to think of. The quills he did still have were cut super short with a sharp object like a pair of scissors. This poor hedgehog had been put through some horrible things. He had no way to protect himself, as the quills were the first form of defense. But at that moment, it might have been the last of his worries.
He was making small squeaking noises that sounded like he was in pain. There was a lot more going on with the hedgehog than they could see. Anita and Allan had been doing this for a long time, and this was the worst case they’d ever seen. It even looked like Frankie, as they called him after the man that found him, was used as a soccer ball too. They didn’t know where the hedgehog came from, since Frank lived in the city, but they had to help. He had to get to a vet.
When they examined him, they saw his gums had very little color left, and they worried that he was only hours away from losing his life. He was in so much pain that he groaned even while they were examining him with gloves. They had had a few hedgehogs before, and they had medicine that was appropriate to give. They gave him a few painkiller drops to help him calm down and relax. It would be easier to transport him if he wasn’t in excruciating pain. They put him back in the box that Frank had brought him in. Then they called the vet who always looked after the sanctuary’s animals. He was willing to meet them at the vet’s office for a full exam.
Frank decided to leave Frankie in their capable hands and get back to his sandwich. He would help out with any cost for the hedgehog, and he would later check in often. When Allan and Anita got to the vet, they found it was even worse than they believed. Frankie was very dehydrated, to the point that he was on the verge of dying. They had to get fluids in him right away. If Frank had left him in the kitchen through the night, it would have been too late.
The vet also found that he had ringworm, which might be the reason why his skin didn’t look great everywhere and some of the quills fell out completely. It was a good thing they had all been wearing gloves when they handled him because ringworm is highly contagious. It might not have been nice, but the couple did think of one silver lining to all of this: hopefully, the person that had done this to the hedgehog didn’t use gloves when doing it.
As they gave him fluids, they were ready to get him x-rayed. Finally, they got some good news. He had no broken bones. At least that wasn’t another thing they needed to heal. His tiny body had been through a lot already. They would take every win they could get. The next couple of weeks would be challenging. It would be the time period that determined if he would make it and even if he ever had the chance of being returned to the wild someday.
When he had been hydrated enough, he was sent home with Allan and Anita. He slowly started eating and getting stronger. His skin was still in terrible condition, but that would take months to heal. As long as he was doing better, it was a great outcome. Until one night when they got to his enclosure, he was groaning in pain. It was a sound they hadn’t heard in days and hoped they had put behind him. He was lying on his side, and it didn’t look good. Once again, they had to rush Frankie to the vet’s office. They missed it the first time, but he had another parasite he needed to be treated for. Only after that experience did Frankie start to get better. He slowly got more energetic and playful. Each night when he chirped and played was a massive victory for the couple.
Frank came by to check on him too, and he couldn’t believe how much better the hedgehog looked. His skin had healed up, and it looked better. Some of the quills started growing back. They hoped he would be able to get all of them back. Without it, they could not release him back to the wild. He had no defense mechanism against other animals. He needed his quills to survive. Months went by, and they noticed that he didn’t entirely act like a wild hedgehog.
He wanted them to give him a lot of love and attention. Even some pet hedgehogs don’t ever become completely tame, and few of them want to cuddle. But Frankie was always a unique creature. As soon as he saw the humans next to his enclosure, he ran right up to them. He wanted to be picked up and get all the attention and love that they could give him. He liked nothing more than to curl up on Anita’s lap and sleep there for hours.
They gave him a few live worms to catch, trying to prepare him for returning to the wild. But it seemed to freak him out. He crawled inside the tunnel in his enclosure and wouldn’t look at the squirmy worms. He much preferred fruit and cat food. The couple had to strongly consider that this little hedgehog might never have been a wild animal. Did someone’s pet get out? Was it his owner that had hurt him? They were sadly never going to get those answers, and as much as they tried to get Frankie ready for the wild, it just wasn’t happening.
It had been almost a year since Frank first found him in the kitchen. That’s a long time in the life of a hedgehog, who only lives around 5 years. And even after all that time, his quills had not fully recovered. There were still spots where they didn’t grow, soft spots where a predator could catch him and injure him easily. On top of that, he just loved humans too much to go back to the wild. They tried to limit their interactions, but right from the moment he came home to them, Frankie wanted them to love him.
Despite everything that little hedgehog had gone through, he still trusted people completely. That was great for a domesticated animal, but for a wild animal, it could be deadly. It was decided that Frankie would never be able to live out in the wild. They didn’t know what was in his past, but they were determined to make his future bright and happy. If he couldn’t go back to the wild, what would happen to him? Allan and Anita would give him a good home for the rest of his life. They would even try to give him an experience that felt a bit wilder. They built him a large indoor and outdoor enclosure where he could play outside in the sun, and then he could come back into the house to rest or cuddle up against the humans.
Frankie had been through so much, but his story shows that you can still trust in the people who love you. Frankie would have that love for the rest of his days, and no one would ever hurt him again. Thanks for watching. Join us again for even more amazing stories that can inspire you.”