A group of teenagers attempted to toss a litter of hoglets onto a bonfire and killed two by stomping them to death.
A member of the public came to the animals’ aid after witnessing the “distressing incident” in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, last October and managed to rescue three of the hedgehogs.
Sadly, one died during the journey to the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Clackmannanshire.
Another, called Sally, was found to have had intestinal problems and passed away shortly afterwards.
The sole survivor, Jack, has since been released back into the wild after being hand-reared at the charity’s specialist facility.
He was let loose in November with support feeding and housing to help him find his feet.
April Dodds, assistant manager of the rescue centre in Fishcross, said: “This was understandably a very distressing incident for both the hoglets involved and the member of the public who witnessed it.
“We are so grateful to the passer-by for intervening and managing to save three of the hedgehogs. Sadly, two others were stamped to death by the teenagers.”
Jack, who recovered from his ordeal, was hand-reared by wildlife assistant Nicole.
Ms Dodds added: “He continued to thrive in her care and after several weeks was ready to be released.
“It’s always upsetting when an animal comes into our care due to deliberate harm caused by humans, but there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing that animal recover and return to the wild where they belong against all odds.”
Despite a joint Scottish SPCA and Police Scotland investigation, those involved could not be identified.
Gilly Mendes Ferreira, head of education, policy and research at the Scottish SPCA, highlighted that children can mistreat animals for a “variety of reasons”.
She added: “Often this has more to do with not knowing what they are doing is hurtful, or having trouble regulating their emotions and behaviour, rather than from an intent to cause harm.
“Many people don’t always recognise that when a young person shows behaviour towards an animal that is a cause of concern it can also act as an early indicator that something else may be wrong in that young person’s life and specialist support may be required.
“We hope that the young people involved in this incident speak to an appropriate adult who can give them the support they need, and we would encourage any adult who is aware to refer them to our Animal Guardians programme if required for further support.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We have not identified those responsible as yet and continue to appeal for information.
“Anyone who can assist is asked to contact police via 101.”
If you find an animal in distress, call the Scottish SPCA’s confidential helpline on 03000 999 999.