The youths blew cannabis smoke into a bag containing the female hedgehog in the sickening abuse. Witnesses then saw them tip the bag out into a river and rushed to grab the creature.
The hedgehog – which would have only just emerged from hibernation at the time of its ordeal – was collected by the RSPCA the following day, Leicestershire Live reports.
It’s since been treated at Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital near Kibworth, where she remains in an incubator but is recovering well.
“We are extremely grateful to the members of the public for saving this poor hedgehog’s life and for keeping her safe overnight until we were able to collect her and take her to the hospital,” RSPCA Inspector Karl Marston said.
“I am frankly quite shocked by what I have been told has potentially happened to this poor hedgehog and it is a miracle that she survived given all she has been through.”
He added: “Witnesses said they saw a group of young males, possibly teenagers, with the hedgehog and they had her in a bag and were believed to be blowing cannabis smoke into the bag.
“They then tipped the the hedgehog out of the bag into the water near Northampton Road.
“It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to deliberately attack an animal in this horrific and callous way.
“It’s shocking and upsetting and we desperately need to hear from anyone who may know anything about this incident.”
The incident happened at Memorial Gardens in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, on Saturday, April 10.
A spokesman for Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital said: “We are saddened and shocked to hear what has happened to this hedgehog as she would have just woken up from hibernation.
“Despite everything that has happened to her she is still fighting on – she is currently being cared for in one of our incubators.
“We have discovered that she is blind in one eye. We don’t think this is in relation to the cruelty incident, so therefore she will remain in our care.
“She was also covered in ticks, which we have now removed.”
Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to call the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.