RSPCA officers were left shocked after a hedgehog was found with horrific burn injuries in Houghton Regis, its wounds suspected to have been caused deliberately.
The hog was found by a concerned member of the public on August 28 in the Tithe Farm Road area at around 10am.
The caller confined the hedgehog in a box and contacted the RSPCA, which has now launched an urgent appeal for information.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “Inspector Jaime Godfrey collected the hedgehog and was horrified to discover that it had an oval sore of around three inches across its back which was clearly as a result of being burned.
“Despite the terrible injuries, the hedgehog was still alive and the sore was covered with pus and had maggots crawling over it.”
Inspector Godfrey added: “This poor hedgehog had clearly been burned and the injury they had sustained was just awful.
“The kindest thing to do was to put the hedgehog to sleep to prevent them suffering further.
“While no one witnessed the hedgehog being attacked it is clear that they had been burned and I find it hard to believe that they could have sustained this injury accidentally.
“It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to deliberately attack a wild animal in this horrific and callous way.
“It’s a shocking and upsetting attack and we desperately need to hear from anyone who may have heard someone bragging about setting fire to the hedgehog or know of who may have carried out this terrible act of cruelty.”
Anyone with any information about this incident should call the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.
To help the RSPCA you can give £3 now by texting LOVE to 87023 (text costs £3, plus one standard network rate message).
The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations to exist.