A man beat a hedgehog to death with a brick after a row with his girlfriend.
Liam Aitken, 24, of Wood Lane, Wallasey, Wirral admitted hitting the animal six times until it died on 12 May.
RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes described it as a “stomach-churning act of cruelty” on a vulnerable animal.
Aitken was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months at Wirral Magistrates’ Court.
He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £835 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a hedgehog by crushing the animal to death.
Aitken told the court he carried out the attack on Wood Lane because he was angry after having an argument with his partner.
Mr Joynes said: “This stomach-churning act of cruelty was witnessed by a member of the public, who saw him throwing a brick at something. When they went out to investigate they were shocked to see it was a hedgehog.
“A post-mortem examination carried out on the hedgehog showed that he had multiple fractures and a ruptured abdomen.”
He said it “clearly suffered significantly from this trauma”.
Mr Joynes added that when he interviewed Aitken, he said the hedgehog tried to get up and move after being hit for the third time.
“He [Aitken] also said he did not know why he did it,” the inspector said.
“If you have had an argument with someone and are angry, it is always a good idea to take a walk to calm down but you certainly should not take it out on a vulnerable animal.
“What Aitken did is very disturbing behaviour which we have taken very seriously,” said Mr Joynes.