Hogarth's / Spikey's Hedgehog Rescue

Help - I've found a sick hedgie!  -  Out in the day?  -  Hedgehog First Aid  -  Sick Hedgehogs  -  Injured Hedgehogs  -  Orphaned Baby Hoglets  -  Re-hydrating hedgehogs  -  Adopt-A-Hedgehog  -  How it all began  -  Our Rescue Facilities  -  Hedgie stories  -  Our Gallery/ Patients  -  Our Photo Albums  -  Other wildlife  -  Artwork  -  Hedgehogs' Year  -  Be hedgehog friendly!  -  Membership/ How to join  -  Our Newsletter  -  Latest News  -  Sales / Fundraising  -  Open Days/ Events  -  Please Help Us  -  Special Thanks  -  Home-page  -  Home-page 2  -  Home-page 3  -  Contact Us  -  E-Mail Us  -  Links


Spikey's Hedgehog Rescue

Hedgehog First Aid and Care of sick and injured hedgehogs...

OUT IN THE DAY?  THIS MEANS THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG!  He/she could be injured, sick, cold, poisoned, blind, have broken bone(s), bleeding, hungry/starving, or dehydrated.  A sick or injured, or orphaned hedgehog will be found out in daylight, either still in the same spot (without moving - the hedgehog is not sunbathing, it's very ill, and trying desperately to keep warm), or wondering about, wobbling, and looking lost and confused. Wobbling or unsteady on legs is an indication of starvation, severe dehydration and/or hypothermia.  Dragging a limb indicates either severe wounding or that it is broken, or the hedgehog is badly dehydrated/weakened by sickness.  ALL OF THE ABOVE NEED IMMEDIATE VETERINARY ATTENTION!

     Each time we receive a call about a sick or injured hedgehog, initially we ask the caller to give us their exact location to co-ordinate a link-up with their local rescuer, and to carefully (using gardening gloves) put the hedgehog in a small box, ready, if they have not done so already.  This is so that the patient (if can move) doesn't stray away into hiding, putting him/herself in even more danger. (If left alone the hedgehog might run away). The box should have a hot water bottle in the bottom, well-wrapped with a towel, so that the heat is tolerable. A small towel or cloth can be placed on top of the patient, to help keep him/her warm - this is extremely important, because they will be SUFFERING FROM SHOCK, some also hypothermia and need constant warmth! A hedgehog must ALWAYS be warm to the touch.

     Casualties suffer from dehydration (blood loss also leads to dehydration), as well as shock. Upon receiving a hedgehog, this is what we can do:

Alternatively to the above, also available (from vets) is Lectade mineral-replacement drink, which also can be used for re-hydrating hedgehogs. 

     All our sick hedgehogs are examined by vets immediately or as soon as possible after they are collected or brought to us.  Badly dehydrated patients are given fluid injections; usually, these are given directly into the abdomen... and the patients are always kept under observation at the veterinary surgery, in incubators to keep them warm. 

     WOUNDS, BURNS and LOSS OF LIMBS.  Initially, wounds should be flushed out with a 2% Savlon solution, (1 teaspoon to half-a-pint warm water); but some injuries are too horrific to mention and are best dealt with by a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible!  

     While at the veterinary surgery, any cuts or wounds are cleaned up (the hedgehog may have to be sedated!) and if necessary are stitched, under anaesthetic. Sometimes, it requires several pairs of hands to uncurl even a severely injured hedgehog; they have an extraordinary strength!  Very sick or dying hedgehogs will no-longer be able to roll-up, these just lay on their side.  If there is a large build-up of infection (pus), this is drained, or the infected tissue if possible is removed.  Burns sometimes appear as blisters (infected, with pus) and/or blackened areas of the skin. If a limb has been lost, the remaining bit of the leg is amputated.  (We sometimes receive hedgehogs who have their limb partly severed by a strimmer... the decision whether to amputate depends on if the limb can be repaired successfully and if the caused infection goes down or not).  Each casualty as necessary are given antibiotic injections - some patients have to be put on a course of antibiotic injections, therefore treated on a day-to-day or weekly/fortnightly basis, depending on how bad the hedgehog was injured or how badly sick.  Treatments for removal of parasites are given, e.g. worming injections.  Standard drugs used on hedgehogs and other wild animals include injections of Ivomec, Clamoxyl and Baytril - the latter probably being the best-known, because it is also used widely on small pets, also as an oral solution.

     TICKS. The majority of hedgehogs we receive have at least a few ticks, fully-gorged ones look like greyish-blue nodules, each about the size of a pea, and are found mostly around the eyes and behind the ears; these are removed immediately using tweezers, the body of each tick (near where the mouth parts enter the skin) is gripped and turned anti-clockwise, until it loses its grip - NEVER PULL!  If pulled, the mouthparts will be left embedded in the skin, which will cause infection. If there is a heavy infestation, ticks are dangerous to an already dehydrated hedgehog, and unfortunately, some hedgehogs are smothered in them!  In each case like this, there is not enough time to remove them all, and the casualty is seen by a vet first.    

     FLY-STRIKE.  Fly-strike is another big problem, particularly in the warmer months of the year!  The majority of sick and injured hedgehogs we receive will have at least a few clusters of tiny white specks, (mostly on wounds, in damp areas of the body and under armpits) - these are fly eggs, and with care we remove these immediately; using fine tweezers if among spines, or using a nit comb or by clipping out, if in the soft fur. The real problems with fly-strike start if the eggs have already hatched - and some casualties are in a terrible state when we receive them!  Maggots are found mostly on wounds, in damp areas and under the armpits, also under the eyelids and in the ears. A heavy infestation of tiny maggots are "floated" out, by dipping repeatedly in several bowls of warm salt-water, and larger ones must be individually pulled out using long fine tweezers.  Wound maggots are brought to the surface by using a hair dryer, to give a gentle warm air.  The stragglers are caught by brushing Battle Maggot Paste over the affected area.

     FLEAS.  Not a worry, unless the infestation is heavy. Hedgehog fleas are not the same as dog/cat fleas; they are mostly brown, and won't stay on a cat or a dog. The hedgehog's bedding is dusted with Johnson's Ridmite; in some cases, the vets give treatment for external parasites.  NEVER use a cat or dog flea spray - they are far too strong and poisonous for hedgehogs and will kill them!

     OIL.  Any hedgehogs with oil on them should be treated in the same way as any other wild animal; best removed by carefully immersing in a bowl, containing hand hot water (45 degrees C.) with 2% washing-up liquid, (1 teaspoon to 1 pint hot water).  After immersing for 10 seconds, the oil can be loosened, a toothbrush can be used for this.  Using a spray of warm water, the hedgehog is carefully rinsed, thoroughly. Drying the hedgehog is done by using a gentle heat source (hair dryer) and towels, and the hedgehog needs to be kept indoors for at least 24 hours.   

     SKIN PROBLEMS.  Unfortunately, hedgehogs are prone to all kinds of skin problems! Ivomec will be given to a hedgehog at the veterinary surgery, if there is a type of mange (if there are bare patches and/or thick scabs).  Ringworm (actually a fungal infection) causes a dandruffy, flaky appearance of the skin and loss of spines; a special ointment (Tea tree cream) is given to hedgehogs who suffer large loss of spines, plus daily bathing in gentle, warm water - the ointment given following the bathing.

     LUNGWORM.  Very sadly, this accounts for a huge mortality rate, every year - in some areas, it's been reported up to about 80% of the population!  This is a very nasty disease that if not treated, will result in death; if the infection is very bad, the lungworms cause a lot of damage to the lungs, severe mucus production and weight-loss, because badly infected hedgehogs refuse to eat - and therefore need to be liquid-fed using a syringe.  When we receive infected hedgehogs/hoglets, (they are kept isolated), we see symptoms including green or mucus droppings, snuffling, coughing, bubbles from the nose and wobbles.  The coughing seems to mostly occur when the hedgehog is sleepy or asleep - it is vitally important that each infected hedgehog is able to cough up the dead worms.  Bubbles from the nose indicates the start of pneumonia (a secondary illness), caused by the mucus/fluid in the lungs.  We sometimes receive whole families that are ALL infected - because this disease is highly infectious!  Infected hedgehogs are given worming injections by the vets, antibiotics and a course of wormer to be given orally.  Treatment is designed to kill the worms, but they still need to be coughed up.   

     CONVALESCENCE.  Noise levels are kept to an absolute minimum, to avoid stress...we do not want to add to the distress suffered by sick and injured hedgehogs, and try our best to make our patients feel as comfortable as possible. All our sick/injured hedgehogs are kept in housing that is large enough for them to exercise, for their bedding and their dishes of food and water.  They are kept warm at all times and we use either soft hay, hand shredded newspaper, old woolies or toweling material for bedding. (Baby hoglets need a constant warmth from e.g. a heat-pad - and a woolly hat "hoglet" is given to lone hoglets, to make them feel they have company).  The patients (whether single casualties or family groups) are kept each in separate housing, and new-arrivals are kept completely isolated (quarantined) for at least 48 hours - some longer, depending on the severity or how infectious a disease.  For the same reason, hands are washed before, after and in between handling casualties, to avoid cross-infection, and all feeding utensils are kept scrupulously clean!  All housing is cleaned and disinfected daily, (hedgehogs are so MESSY!).

     Full records for each casualty/patient are kept - including the details of the finder and whether they want the hedgehog returned to them, plus all the medical details (e.g. treatment given).  Baby hoglets are given Panacur wormer usually at two-weekly intervals, from when they are 3 weeks old.  Every hedgehog in our care is weighed regularly, to ensure proper monitoring.  WEIGHT-LOSS IS A SERIOUS SIGN - If a hedgehog goes off food (not eating) or loses weight, he/she is seen by a vet, for more treatment.

     During the Summer, all "fit again" hedgehogs are put into an outside pen, when they are 400 grams, and released back into the wild when reach 600 grams.  Disabled hedgehogs are released into fully-enclosed gardens, providing there is enough natural food and shelter, and preferably supplemental food as well. We NEVER release hedgehogs during a drought and after the end of October.  If a hedgehog is fully-recovered, he/she can be allowed to hibernate naturally in a special nest box, within the pen, during the rest of Autumn- Winter; putting dishes of food and water in the pen, for as long as it is taken.  (During mild spells in Winter, hedgehogs do frequently wake up for a nightly forage, so it's very important to check the pen EVERY night!).

     During the Autumn and Winter, for the hedgehogs in our care who have not yet recovered from their sickness, vets advise us not to allow them to hibernate.  Therefore, they are kept indoors; as well as all late-born hoglets, who are much too small to hibernate.  All hedgehogs need to be at least 600 grams in weight, to survive the Winter successfully.  Those who are cared for during the Winter, are then released back into the wild in April, because the weather is too unreliable before then.  It is always very sad to see any hedgehog let go after so long (often many months out of the year!), especially those who were very sick or have been hand-reared... you really fall in love with each and every one of them!  But hedgehogs are wild animals and that's where they belong - out in the wild!

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Hogarth's / Spikey's Hedgehog Rescue

Help - I've found a sick hedgie!  -  Out in the day?  -  Hedgehog First Aid  -  Sick Hedgehogs  -  Injured Hedgehogs  -  Orphaned Baby Hoglets  -  Re-hydrating hedgehogs  -  Adopt-A-Hedgehog  -  How it all began  -  Our Rescue Facilities  -  Hedgie stories  -  Our Gallery/ Patients  -  Our Photo Albums  -  Other wildlife  -  Artwork  -  Hedgehogs' Year  -  Be hedgehog friendly!  -  Membership/ How to join  -  Our Newsletter  -  Latest News  -  Sales / Fundraising  -  Open Days/ Events  -  Please Help Us  -  Special Thanks  -  Home-page  -  Home-page 2  -  Home-page 3  -  Contact Us  -  E-Mail Us  -  Links