A PLUCKY hedgehog whose need for hydrotherapy earned him the same name as the greatest ever Olympic swimmer has been released back into the wild.
Phelps was unable to use his back legs when he was rescued near Alness in November.
In a bid to nurse him back to help, staff at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre worked to build up the sickly mammal’s leg strength by getting him to swim in a shallow pool.
His swift progress quickly earned him his colourful moniker, which he shares with world famous swimmer Michael Phelps – whose 28 medal haul has made him the most successful Olympian in history.
And delighted staff have now confirmed they were recently able to reintroduce the healthy hedgehog to the wild.
Phelps was released into a garden in Angus a few weeks ago, where he will be support fed for as long as he wishes to hang around.
Centre manager Colin Seddon said: “Phelps arrived into our care last November unable to move his hind legs.
“Our vet advised physiotherapy and because hedgehogs curl up when scared, we decided to place him in a shallow bath of water.
“He was closely supervised by Nicola Turnbull, our head of small mammals, and was able to build up strength in his hind legs without having to bear any weight.
“After 146 days in our care, Phelps made a full recovery and was released.”
Mr Seddon added: “Phelps was microchipped before leaving the centre so we will be able to track if he needs our help again in the future.
“All of our hedgehogs will be microchipped before being released this year so we can identify if they come back into our care.
“This will give us important feedback such as how well they have integrated back into the wild and how long they have survived.”
Anyone concerned about the welfare of a wild animal should contact the Scottish SPCA’s animal helpline on 03000 999 999.